Patterson Slams “Idiotic” Safety Car Procedure


United Autosports driver Mark Patterson called for a rule change following the clash that ended his and his team’s Avon Tyres British GT Championship race at Rockingham.

Patterson took the start of the two hour race in the Audi R8 LMS ultra he shares in the championship with Matt Bell, and held a place in the top ten, rising as high as fourth on lap 16 before a right-rear puncture forced him into pits.

“After the pit stop all of a sudden I was the fastest guy in England for about ten minutes!” said Patterson. “Some driver just came up to me and said: ‘how the hell were you controlling the car!’ So he obviously didn’t realise I had brand new tyres.”

Though he enjoyed the pace of new tyres the stop dropped Patterson out of fourth, off the lead lap and – crucially for what was to come – out of the train of GT3 cars at the front of the field.

A GT4 car stranded in the gravel at Kirby brought the safety car out onto track and while Marco Attard in the race leading Ecurie Ecosse BMW led the lead group around the track Patterson was caught up behind the GT4 class Beechdean AMR entry, unable to pass the lower class car while yellow flags controlled the entire track.

Patterson explained the situation to www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk; “he wasn’t catching up to the safety car so we were stuck half a lap down because we’re not allowed to catch the GT4’s. SO the class racing is rendered a bit of a joke. If we could get past the GT4’s then it could be pretty exciting. But, were not allowed to pass the guys in front so were running around at 40, 50 miles an hour, the same as the pace car which is idiotic. We need to change that rule. We need to get the GT3’s bunched up and the GT4’s bunched up for a restart because [currently] this is a cruel, silly way to run.”

Rubbing salt into the wound as the green flag came out Patterson made contact with the slower car, the resultant suspension damage putting the team out of the race before Bell had gotten a chance to drive the car during the race.

The retirement continued a troubled start to the season for the United Autosports’ team. Their year started with a second placed finish before Patterson was taken out whilst fighting for the lead in the second of the races at Oulton Park.

“The car has been good,” Patterson reflected. “The Audi is a wonderful braking car and it’s been very stable. We just haven’t had a lot of luck. We’ve had a few oopsies and a little bit of bad luck, also some mistakes, my mistakes too.”

The tea’s next opportunity to make up the early lost ground comes at Silverstone, with the longest race of the British GT season, three hours on June 1.