United Autosports achieved a double top ten finish in the latest two-hour Michelin Le Mans Cup race at the Red Bull Ring, which is the team’s fourth consecutive top nine result. This extends the upward trend of results for the British-based squad as they continue to grow in this category.
The number #32 machine of Naj Husain and Colin Braun finished in eighth position, just ahead of their team-mates, Jim McGuire and Matt Bell. Meanwhile, the number #23 finished fifteenth in class following a spin at mid-way point of the race that they were unable to recover from.
The United Autosports entries had very different stories in qualifying, with the number #32 car of Husain and McGuire achieving their best qualifying performance of the season with ninth place on the grid. This was compared with rather disappointing outcomes for the number #22 and number #23 machines, who only lined up in seventeenth and eighteenth positions respectively.
The race started behind the safety car following a heavy rain storm with all of the 26 cars starting the race on wet weather tyres. After 9 minutes the safety car was withdrawn to allow the field to go racing in treacherous conditions. And following 30 minutes, the #32, #23 and #22 were placed 16th, 17th and 18th after a difficult start to the race, but the conditions had started to improve.
Things took a turn for the worse for the number #23, with Richard Meins spinning at turn four following a battling performance up to P12, causing a Full-Course Yellow so his undamaged Liger could be retrieved with almost an hour of racing completed. Christian England took over and rejoined 18th in class, some two laps down.
Husain handed the 14th-placed number #32 machine over to Braun, with McGuire pitting from the number #22 in 17th position, which he handed over to Bell; the pair resumed in 11th and 13th positions respectively, with everyone now on slick tyres to go to the finish.
With half an hour left, the #32 and #22 were P8 and P10, and both cars were on the attack; with Braun battling hard over P7, ultimately finishing a second behind. Bell meanwhile grabbed ninth place with 21-minutes to go. England was competitive with the pace of his team-mates, but the early error by Meins meant the number #23 finished well down the order, 15th in class.
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director of United Autosports said after the race: “Decent results with good performances from all six drivers but a little frustrated as a top-six was achievable. Richard adapted really well as the track started drying – it was very unfortunate he had an off on the lap he was due to hand the car over to Christian. Our other ‘AMs’ also did well, Naj having his first race here and never having driven in the wet, while Jim was superb in qualifying. Colin, Matt and Christian each produced the drives I expected of them – consistently fast and clean.”
The highest-placed driver, Colin Braun in the number #32 machine gave his thoughts after the race, saying: “We had to do a push back as the pit-lane was pretty congested when Naj pitted which put us back a bit after a good run by him in tough conditions. I enjoyed my stint and had loads of fun passing cars. My pace was decent but just couldn’t get seventh – every time I got close I’d lose the front end.”
The Michelin Le Mans Cup heads to Spa Francorchamps for the penultimate round of the championship on 22 September.