Winning three of the last four races the McLaren MP4-12C was undeniably the car to beat in the second half of 2012 when United Autosports introduced the after leaving the Blancpain Endurance Series. The Anglo-American team stay with the scissor doored car for a second season, while a late switch from one of the series’ most established driving duos will add a third McLaren to the Oulton Park entry list.
#22 – David Jones/Godfrey Jones
After two seasons in British GT with the Mercedes SLS the Jones twins have taken the decision to confine the burbling beast to European competition, picking the McLaren for the domestic series as they feel it better suited to the nature of the British circuits.
In truth the brothers, 2009 champions in the Ascari, never seemed to gel with the SLS, though the second half of 2012 brought improved results and a stint in the overall lead of the final round at Donington Park. That their best results of 2012 came at Donington and on the Silverstone GP track lends some support their theory that the Merc was shackled by the tighter tracks. Back in a nimbler machine – much closer to the Ascari – the Joneses are likely to be one to be fighting for Gentleman Trophy honours, and maybe higher if the McLaren’s dominance remains from last season.
#23 – Zak Brown/Rob Bell
#24 – Roger Wills/Mark Blundell
The United Autosports team at Oulton Park will have slightly different look to the one that takes on the rest of the season with Alvaro Parente the regular driver alongside team owner Brown and Richard Meins on the sidelines recovering from a testing crash but expected to return to partner Blundell before mid-season.
Their deputies for opening weekend do little to dent the sharp edge of the team that could – if numerical superiority is to prove all-conquering – take the teams’ title at a canter. The claiming of Bell – older brother of United Autosports fixture Matt – to replace fellow McLaren in Europe pilot Parente in the #23 could put Brown on the right course for the title even before McLaren development driver Parente returns to racing action at Rockingham. Brown and Parente won the final race of 2012 – though they did not score points – proving the potency of the combination with Parente almost certainly one of the fastest men on the growing grid.
Former F1 and Indycar driver Blundell with both Wills and Meins – both experienced in contemporary and historic machinery – forms another potentially race winning partnership for the team. It is this star-studded twin attack, plus the reappearance of the team’s Audi that put them at and immediate advantage in terms of the teams’ points race.