With British GT and European GT3 campaigns already confirmed Anglo-American team United Autosports have added an entry for January's Rolex 24 at Daytona, with an experienced big name line-up for the endurance race.
The squad, which is co-owned by Zak Brown and Richard Dean, will run a Riley-Ford Daytona Prototype in a co-operative effort with veteran Grand-Am team Michael Shank Racing – the team which ran the fastest lap at the recent test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The four-man line-up will be led by former F1 driver and 1988 Daytona 24 winner Martin Brundle. Widely known to many for his F1 career both commentating and driving – including stints at Benetton, McLaren and Jordan – Brundle has considerable sportscar experience, including seven starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours, a race he won in 1990. It will, however, be his first time in a Daytona Prototype.
“I've raced at the Daytona International Speedway on just two occasions and have been fortunate to win  and finish second  in the 24 Hours,” says Brundle. “From what I remember about those two races, they were physically the hardest ones of my career. I'm very much looking forward to returning to the Speedway and will no doubt see many old friends to exchange tall stories with.”
Brundle's racing over the last decade has taken second place to his TV work, and to the racing career of his son Alex. This year, returning to international racing, he competed in two rounds of the Scirocco R-Cup, as well as three rounds of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo, co-driving with the younger Brundle.
Fellow Briton (and at one time fellow broadcaster) Mark Blundell also has endurance racing experience, with his own Le Mans victory in 1992. More recently he was part of United Autosports' two car assault on this year's Spa 24 Hours, taking third in the GT3 class in a car with Zak Brown – who will also drive at Daytona.
Completing the team is Mark Patterson. The American is most experienced of the quartet in Grand-Am competition with 66 starts across both the Prototype and GT classes, taking 6 podiums in process. The total includes eight previous Daytona 24 starts, with a best result of second place in 2006 with Michael Shank Racing.
Patterson, along with Brown, was part of the regular line-up for team in the FIA European GT3 Championship.
“I drove my first 24 Hours of Daytona with some friends in a SGS class Corvette in 2004 with my first run in the 24 Hours driving a Daytona Prototype a year later,” Patterson says. “This will be my seventh Daytona 24 in a DP. Competition is very tough – on drivers and the cars. The top-10 cars approach this as a 'sprint' race nowadays.”
“The international latticework of seriously competent INDYCAR, NASCAR, Formula One and just about every serious series of drivers, is one of the great thrills of contesting this race. I remember movie legend Paul Newman amongst the race line-ups and of course in recent years NASCAR's multi-year champion Jimmie Johnson and the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya.”
“As chairman and co-owner of United Autosports, to have my team name on the entry list at the Daytona International Speedway for the legendary 24 Hour race is awesome,” Brown enthuses. “Twelve months ago our team didn't exist.”
“So now to be racing in my native USA, at the world famous Speedway venue, in North America's only twice around the clock motor race, makes me extremely proud in what we've accomplished in a very short space of time. It's the first time Richard [Dean] and I have partnered with Michael Shank Racing. His team is first class and he'll give us everything we need. Richard will be ever present on the pit wall with the Michael Shank Racing boys to learn about Grand Am racing while our driver line-up is about as special as it can get.”
All four drivers will attend the 'Roar Before The 24' event at Daytona on January 7-9.