The 2012 season ended with none of Audi’s GT3 racer on the grid, but 2013 begins with three examples, two latest spec ‘ultra’ and one of the other spec cars on the grid. United Autosports bring their example back to the field, with two new teams to the championship choosing the car to start the campaign.
#10 – Rembert Berg/Warren Hughes
Yes, this is the same M-Sport who ran Ford’s works World Rally Championship program and now branching out into GT racing with the Audi – though another car is waiting in the wings. After dominating GT4 last year with Jody Fannin Hughes proved (if there was ever a doubt) that he was of the quality that deserved to be in the premier class and a combination with Dutch driver Rembert Berg for 2012 gives him that opportunity.
After a racing career that has focussed mainly on Megane Trophy competition British GT – and especially GT3 – appears a dauntingly large step up for Berg and though Hughes could prove the Audi’s pace result are (unfortunately) likely to be tempered by Berg’s lack of experience.
PE Group Blendini Motorsport
#11 – Dom Evans/Tom Roche
Initially on the entry list with a GT4 Ginetta Tom Roche and his Blendini team have jumped straight from the single make Mazda MX-5 club series to GT3 with the older spec Audi. Both team and Roche have proved a dominant force in Mazda competition – the team normally instantly recognisable by their bright green livery. However, whether the change in class proves too much for them remains to be seen.
Joining the team – and coming into GT3 after the year in GT4 his teammate has skipped – is Dom Evans. Evans spent 2012 at Century Motorsport, taking third in the class points with co-driver Zoe Wenham one place higher.
Unlike many of the other new driver combinations in the series this year both halves of the Blendini crew are unproven in GT3 cars, leaving them starting the season on the outside looking in.
#25 – Mark Patterson/Matt Bell
The most experienced team on the British GT grid with the Audi are likely to be the most successful team with the marque on track this year. Bell starts a third full season in British GT with the team while UA regular Patterson makes a British GT return after making a one-off appearance at Oulton Park in 2010 before United Autosports departed for a full season in the GT3 European Championship.
Bell – on paper at least – could be hard done by in not receiving a promotion to the McLaren part of the team and the United Autosports regular could turn the Audi arm of the team in to just a potent a weapon as the McLaren line-ups likely to steal the limelight. However, in 2012 the Audi – despite coming within half a lap of victory to begin the season – was one of the cars more noticeably shackled by the balance of performance, something unlikely to change much with a raised minimum weight after Team WRT took the car to the Blancpain Endurance Series title.