- Patterson and Bell on the Rockingham podium
- Brown makes bold move for the lead from second row
- United move to within one point of Championship lead
It was Mark Patterson and Matt Bell in the No. 25 Audi R8 LMS ultra that once again took the honours for United Autosports with a second successive championship podium, this time at the Rockingham Motor Speedway.
The sunny May Bank Holiday weekend saw the first of the 2013 season long-distance events. The two-hour race, with refueling and a compulsory driver change at around the 60 minute point, attracted a huge 33 car grid with some the best teams and drivers in Europe.
As the flag dropped, the powerful GT cars thundered onto the Rockingham oval banking. Patterson made a great start, up to fourth on the opening lap from a third row qualifying position. Meanwhile Brown drove around the outside of the Gregor Fisken (eventual race winners) Trackspeed Porsche to take third on the oval circuit banking. Brown’s momentum took him alongside the lead Porsches into the heavy braking zone and made a daring move for the lead. As the cars turned off the oval course and onto the Rockingham infield section Brown’s race was over as fast as it began, hit by the M-sport Audi and suffering terminal damage to the rear suspension.
As the race settled down, Patterson in the Audi R8 held fourth place, within touching distance of the leaders. Meanwhile Mark Blundell in the 24 McLaren MP4 12C was storming through the grid from a lowly 24th qualifying position. Blundell put in a superb drive to slice his way through the field, pitting in an impressive fifth place at the halfway stage. However, a mistake during the pit stop and driver change over to team debutant Jody Firth, meant that the pairing lost valuable time and quickly dropped back down the order. Firth would now be faced with a fight back from 18th place as he took to the track for his first race for the team. It was a tall order but one that Firth gave his all as he moved up to tenth and into the points with only 10 minutes remaining. It was looking to be a great debut and recovery drive, but all was lost after contact with a Mercedes ruled Firth out of the points positions.
As the pit stop window opened for the leaders, the heat was taking its toll on tyre wear and drivers. Patterson, still in forth position, had a spin; stopping hearts in the United hospitality area! Despite a quick recovery, the Audi dropped down to eighth place. A perfect pit stop for the United Audi crew had to include a compulsory 15 second pit stop penalty as a result of the success in the previous round. Matt Bell now behind the wheel for the last hour was now the quickest car on track. A dominant performance from Matt saw him progress through the field up to an eventual third place and final podium position. A just reward for the hard work of the entire United Autosports team.
The British GT Championship now moves to Silverstone, May 25/26, on the Grand Prix circuit for the seasons only three-hour race. The McLaren drivers have lots of work to do but the Audi of Patterson and Bell now sit second in the standings, only half a point off the Championship leaders.
Mark Patterson, Driver, United Autosports No 25. Audi R8 LMS ultra
“We had a good start and managed to break loose at the start and get into P4. I held that position for a while but it was pretty close. About three quarters of the way in I had a spin and lost a few places, eventually pitting in eighth. The car felt good, and it was a solid race until I made a mistake. Matt did a great job, and we have collected valuable championship points, so not a bad day.”
Matt Bell, Driver, United Autosports No. 25 Audi R8 LMS ultra
“Despite the time penalty we received after our podium finish at Oulton Park I am really happy with the result today. We certainly had the pace. Mark was going well, but the tyre degradation is massive here, and that just caught him out. I managed to get back up into fourth but towards the end my tyres started to go off. I was within touching distance of the Aston Martin just ahead, but I just couldn’t get a break with the traffic. All in all I’m happy to have collected points today. I’m looking forward to Silverstone.”
Zak Brown, Team Owner & Driver, United Autosports No. 23 McLaren MP4-12C GT3
“I got a really good start and was comfortably in second when I tried to make a pass for the lead going into turn 2. In hindsight I was too aggressive and went into the dirt. Once I got back on track in sixth place, I should have kept my cool, but I drove under the BMW in turn 3, and then someone drove straight into me. It was a hard hit and damaged the car and ended our race. The championship for Álvaro and I is now a tough call. I’m really disappointed. I’m really happy for both Mark and Matt; they did a great job to finish in the points.”
Mark Blundell, Driver, United Autosports No. 24 McLaren MP4-12C GT3
“It was a tough race. We worked hard to get the car into fifth by the end of the first hour. It was not easy, and we were slightly hurt by having to carry extra ballast. It makes overtaking really difficult, and you have to work really hard to manage your tyres. The guys did a great job with the car, but the disappointment was during the pit stop. It just did not go to plan, and we lost a huge amount of time so all that we gained out on the circuit we lost. I hold my hands up and know that we will need to sort out a better system so that does not happen again. On a positive note, we managed to overtake a load of guy’s out there so we know we can be competitive.”
Jody Firth, Driver, United Autosports No. 24 McLaren MP4-12C GT3
“It was a challenging afternoon. We started 24th, and Mark did a great job to get us through to fifth. We decided to pit late to make sure that the pit lane was clear. Unfortunately, the pit stop and driver change did not go well. Mark was struggling to get the belts in so we lost a lot of time with that. I started to make my way through the field getting up into tenth. The safety car came out and that helped bunch the field up, but we had a number of dramas. I thought I had a puncture and pitted to change a wheel with five minutes remaining. It was disappointing, and I could do no more than 15th by the time the flag came out.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner & Managing Director, United Autosports
“We went into this race having finished on the podium at Oulton Park with the Audi (No.25) which meant that we carried a penalty here at Rockingham. So to come away with a good points haul on that car is a very credible result. Zak (No. 23) had a tough day which is unfortunate after such a good qualifying position. He got a good start off the line but got caught up in the action and came off worst. Mark Blundell (No.24) did a great job but we made too many mistakes. The pit stop did not go according to plan so we have to rectify that. Jody was up against it and did the best job he could. All in all, the pace between the two of them was good but it means nothing when you make too many mistakes. From an operational point of view, I am really proud of every single member of the team, every one of them works incredibly hard.”
Diana Binks interviews Mark on the disappointment of missing out on the race following his teammates accident.
Duncan Lawrie Private Bank has announced that it is to partner motor racing legend, Mark Blundell, during his 2013 race season in the British GT Championship with United Autosport.
As a former Formula One driver, winner of the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race and television presenter for ITV Sport, Mark is a well-recognised figure in the world of motorsports. Mark started his sporting career at just 14, and for nearly twenty years he has competed at the very top of world motorsport, including IndyCar and World Rally.
Matthew Parden, Managing Director, Duncan Lawrie Private Bank, commented: “Working in partnership with Mark on his return to racing is a fantastic opportunity for us. Mark is a very popular figure in the world of motorsports and will be integral to helping build the Duncan Lawrie Private Bank brand. We are honoured that he has chosen to accept our offer of partnership.”
Mark Blundell, Driver for United Autosport, British GT Championship, said: “I love sports car racing; the teamwork, camaraderie, sharing the highs and lows. Presenting on live television was great but it didn’t quite tick all the boxes; getting behind the wheel of a racing car and challenging yourself is something entirely different. The support of our partners is a critical element of our success and I look forward to a great season with the support of Duncan Lawrie Private Bank.”
The sponsorship will initially run for the course of the season and will see the Duncan Lawrie Private Bank logo appear on Mark’s race suit.
Richard Meins, British GT driver with United Autosports will miss the season opener after suffering an accident in testing last week. Richard who had joined the team for a two-day test suffered broken ribs and a knee injury after an incident on track, which damaged the McLaren MP4-12C GT3.
He said after the accident, “Not having raced at Oulton Park since 2000 I was looking forward to the two-day test. It didn’t take me long to get back into the flow, and I soon remembered the unique nature of the circuit with help from Mark Blundell and the team. On our second day I started to put in some decent lap times then in the afternoon session I put a rear wheel on the grass at the kink before the first chicane, and suffered a side impact with the tyre wall which unfortunately resulted in sustaining broken ribs and a fractured knee, not to mention the damage to the car. I want to thank the marshals and medical staff at Oulton Park for a really professional job helping me out of the car and taking care of me in the medical centre, and to the paramedics and the staff at NHS Leighton Hospital in Crewe. It was not the start to the season I had hoped for, and to say I am very disappointed is an understatement, but I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel at Silverstone .”
Roger made his debut in GT racing in 2010 in a works supported Jota Aston Martin Vantage, going on to win the GT4 class of the Spa 24 Hours. A move to the ILMC in 2011 saw him finish fourth in the LM GTE Pro-Am Championship with two podiums and he had his first taste of the “works” McLaren MP4-12C in their debut race at the 2011 Spa 24 Hours.
Roger is no stranger to the United Autosports team, having competed in the Dubai 24 Hours in the Audi R8 LMS last year.
We wish Richard a speedy recovery after his unfortunate testing accident. Roger is great replacement and will no doubt keep the seat warm and be very competitive in his absence.
-Zak Brown, Team Owner and Driver, United Autosports
I’m delighted to be stepping into the car for Oulton Park, but I’m disappointed for Richard who is a good friend of mine, and I hope he makes a quick recovery. I’ve driven the McLaren before, during the Spa 24 hours but it will be my first time in the British GT Championship and I am really looking forward to it. It’s great to be back with the team.
-Roger Wills, Racing Driver, United Autosports
For further information contact: Diana Binks on firstname.lastname@example.org
United Autosports is delighted to announce that it has signed Ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Blundell to compete full time in the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship alongside Richard Meins, reuniting their partnership from the 24 Hours of Spa in 2012.
Mark has raced before for the Leeds based team, notably finishing fourth in the Daytona prototype class in the 2011 Rolex 24 in a team with Martin Brundle, Mark Patterson, and United Autosports owner Zak Brown.
Bringing his vast international racing experience to United Autosports, including a Le Mans 24 Hour win, Mark looks set to be a serious contender in 2013, driving a McLaren MP4-12C in the GT3 category.
The 46-year-old competed in Formula 1 between 1991 and 1995, notching up 63 starts and racing for the Brabham, Ligier, Tyrrell and McLaren teams, scoring three podiums during his F1 career.
A move to America then beckoned, with Mark scoring three victories while competing in the CART World Series. He then fused a career in sportscar racing, the highlights of which so far have been taking victory in the 1992 24 Hours of Le Mans and finishing second in the endurance event in 2003. His participation in the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship will see Blundell’s full-time return to racing.
United Autosports are pleased to announce and welcome Viglen IT as proud partners of the Anglo American team. Viglen, along with long term partners Henderson Insurance has committed to a British GT sponsorship deal with Mark Blundell for the 2013 season.
The prestigious Avon Tyres British GT Championship will visit six UK circuits and one international event in The Netherlands. The championship offers a spectacular motorsport experience, with supercars racing bumper-to-bumper, the throaty roar of the sportscar engine racing at breathtaking speeds and all the drama of pitstops and driver changeovers.
Its great to be part of the United Autosports team for 2013. I learnt my craft as a junior driver on many tracks that the championship competes on so I am really looking forward to being back home. What makes it even more special is that I will be able to race in front of family and friends and the many loyal race fans who have supported me over the years. I would like to thank Zak Brown and Richard Dean for giving me the opportunity and Viglen Computers for the support this season, along with my team mate Richard Meins. I expect us to be a strong combination armed with the McLaren MP4 -12C GT3 car. The British series is getting stronger by the season, and I hope that we will be able to entertain the race fans. For me it’s about racing on home turf, what could be better. I can’t wait to get the season underway
-Mark Blundell, United Autosports, Racing Driver
The British Championship will receive a huge boost having Mark Blundell in the McLaren MP4 12C in 2013. United Autosports are very proud to have Mark as a full time member of our team. For me this announcement makes all the hard work over the closed season worthwhile, Mark has been pushing harder than any of the other drivers who were in the running for this seat to make this happen. This shows he has lost none of his competitive desire to race and win”.
-Richard Dean, United Autosports, Team Owner, Managing Director
It’s fantastic news that Mark is joining us for his first full season in British racing for many years. There is no question that he will continue to win as he has his whole career, and he will no doubt be a huge fan favorite.
-Zak Brown, United Autosports Team Owner and Driver
United Autosports joined the British GT Championship at Oulton Park for a one off visit in 2010. We are delighted they have chosen to stay in our racing series. To have three very prestigious entries from them is great news. The addition of Mark Blundell to the existing line up is phenomenal and a testament to the direction British GT; the best national GT series in the world is going. Congratulations to Richard and his team
-Benjamin Franassovici, SRO London British GT Championship Manager
We are extremely excited to be part of the United Autosports program for the 2013 British GT Championship. We welcome the opportunity and look forward to integrating our IT technology along with our partners into the team. We will be taking our customers to race events to experience firsthand how the partnership works between Viglen and United and to see how our technology and solutions enhance and enrich the whole race experience. And in Mark Blundellwe have a great race driver and Ambassador for Viglen and our partners
-Bordan Tkachuk, CEO, Viglen
2013 Race Calendar
Oulton Park, Great Britain 30 March-1 April
Rockingham, Great Britain 5-6 May
Silverstone, Great Britain 25-26 May
Snetterton, Great Britain 15-16 June
Brands Hatch, Great Britain 10-11 August
Zandvoort, The Netherlands 6-8 September
Donington Park, Great Britain 5-6 October
For further information contact: Diana Binks on email@example.com