A rollercoaster Avon Tyres British GT weekend at Rockinghan for United Autosports included the team scoring its first pole position though Matt Bell and Michael Guasch still left the Northamptonshire track trailing in the championship points after starting the weekend in the lead.
It was Guasch who put the team's no.23 Audi R8 LMS on pole position for the first of the pair of hour long races at the track. However, in tricky conditions things quickly went wrong for both of the cars on the grid. While the rest of the field begun their green flag lap ahead of the rolling start Guasch was left stranded on the grid, the rear wheels on the Audi spinning wildly while the car remained all but stationary.
A brake malfunction was the issue, and with the problem cured on the grid Guasch was able to join the field as the wound around the track, but at the back, rather than the front. The was further misfortune for Jay Palmer in the sister car, who was due to start from ninth – equally his best grid slot of the season. Palmer was just one of several driver caught out by the greasy track, spinning the Audi at Tarzan on his way to the green flag.
Both cars races were then further compromised by the need to pit for wet tyres when the greasy track became sodden after a downpour after just a handful of laps. It was all the more ironic for Palmer who also had to serve a drive through penalty after the team had changed to slick tyres on the grid after the two minute board had been displayed.
However, as the race settled down both sets of drivers were able to use the pace of the Audi to move up through the field. Matt Bell – taking the second stint in the no.23 finished tenth, picking up the final point and extending their points lead to three over the non-scoring CRS Racing pair of Glynn and Jim Geddie.
The second race of the day was the opposite story. Bell inherited pole position after the withdrawal of Tim Bridgman's Trackspeed Porsche, but was quickly shuffled back to third on the opening lap.
Though he was able to fend off challenges from both Glynn Geddie and MTECH driver Matt Griffin when both given drive though penalties. Geddie and Griffin, both in Ferrari 458 GT3 were able to make up the time lost and their co-drivers – Duncan Cameron taking over the MTECH machine – were part of a battle with Guasch for second in the closing laps.
The Audi man had slipped behind the Geddie's car during the mid-race pitstops and despite having the pace to pass the Ferrari, the Jim Geddie was able to keep Guasch at bay, driving defensively to negate the R8's speed advantage.
Their fighting allowed Cameron and Michael Lyons – also in a 458 – to catch Guasch ans when the American slipped wide around the sweeping left hander of Gracelands both men snuck past, pushing Guasch down to fifth and second in points as the Geddies took second ahead.
After finishing outside the points in race one Palmer and co-driver John Bintcliffe finished ninth after running in the top ten consistently. Bintcliffe had been scored as high a seventh in the opening stint, but a spin dropped him to tenth before mid-race.
The next round of the championship is a three hour enduro at Donington Park on September 24-25.