American FIA GT3 European Championship reached the half way point in their maiden season on a high point with their best ever finishes – the team's two cars sharing 11th, 12th and 13th place finished across the two races at Jarama, Spain.
The team were helped by an extensive testing program which saw them at the Albecete track before Jarama, as well at the addition of experienced British engineer Alan Mugglestone and Danny Watts (as driver coach) to the team. The weekend also saw the series “balance of power” changed, in favour of the team's Audi R8 LMS machines, with rev restrictions lifted.
Young recruit Matthew Bell used all these positives to put the no.23 Remington backed car ninth on the grid of the first of the races – the team's best starting position of the year. “I was personally a little disappointed as I felt I could have qualified higher up the grid,” said Bell, having qualified just over a second shy of pole position. “I lost a couple of places by Turn One at the start but then became embroiled in a hectic fight for what was effectively fourth place. I got a little too excited of being in the mix and made a couple of mistakes.”
Bell made it as high as second on track (sixth in real times) before he handed over to co-pilot Zak Brown at the half way point of the hour-long race. However, Brown lost time in a pair of incidents as he struggled with downshifting, dropping back to 13th, one place behind the sister no.22 car of Michael Guasch and Mark Patterson who had steadily made their way from their 19th place grid slot.
Race two saw the two cars suffer very different fates.
Trying to race from towards the rear of the field – 21st and 24th – both cars made faltering progress to begin with, Brown's race in the no.23 first delayed then ended by a loss of drive followed by a spectacular tyre failure on the start/finish straight brought on, Brown presumed, after early contact pushed bodywork onto the Michelin rubber.
Michael Guasch handed the remaining Audi over to Mark Patterson in 18th place for the New York State resident to set lap times consistently in the top six on track and he raced his way to 11th, tantalisingly one place away from scoring the team's first points.
“Race Two was a blast!” exclaimed Patterson. “I revised my gear changes due to the condition of the tires but the grip level remained constant throughout my stint which allowed me to make up a number of positions over the closing laps. Ultimately we went one better than our Race One result. I'm really looking forward to the second half of the season.”