12 January, 2012
- GRAND-AM stars qualify on the second row in their Audi R8 LMS début
- Solid master plan for both cars paves the way for a strong race
- Strategy plays out in qualifying
Enzo Potolicchio today set the fastest time for United Autosports' #36 Audi R8 LMS to qualify on the second row to start tomorrow's seventh running of the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai in 4th. Mark Patterson went quickest in the sister #26 car to secure seventh.
In the 26 degree celcius heat of the middle-eastern sun drenched circuit, qualifying was divided into a one-hour 'all-classes' and a 30-minute session for the faster GT3 cars.
Potolicchio was first out in #36 and held second spot until the eighth lap to set a time of 2.03.881 to top the timesheet. When handing over to Alex Popow with 30 minutes to go, #36 remained at the top until Niki Cadei went quicker in his #2 Ferrari 458 with fifteen minutes remaining on the clock.
The team opted to sit #36 out of the second qualifying session, feeling its already strong qualifying time was sufficient. It would then go on to secure fourth place at the flag.
Roger Wills headed out first of all in the #26 Audi R8 LMS before handing over to Frank Yu and subsequently Mark Patterson who would go on to set the car's fastest lap of 2.04.497, a time equaled by young star driver Matt Bell during a remarkable performance on old tires in the following night session.
Car #26 Audi R8 LMS
Matt Bell (GB) Age: 22. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, GB. Lives: Barningham, North Yorks, GB:
"I haven't done a great deal today [in the car]; today's been about getting the other guys comfortable in the car and they've all been doing some pretty good lap times.
"We've also been working on our race setup. We weren't too worried about qualifying, we're actually pretty happy with 7th as we have a good race car for the duration of the 24 hour race."
Mark Patterson (SA) Age 60. Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Bronxville, NY, USA:
"We've been running over two hours on a set of tires and still doing top-ten times against people with new tires so we can easily double stint them.
"We just need to keep the lap times consistent. The car feels great - we're fired up; we're going to win this thing – watch us!"
Roger Wills (NZ) Age 43. Born: New Zealand. Lives: New Zealand:
"I only got a lap and a half in the first session this morning so it was nice to get out in the second session, get a good run and I settled in pretty quickly. For my first time in the car and my first time out in Dubai, it all went pretty well.
"I was the first out for qualifying and had a reasonable run on fresh tires. Combining my three best sectors, I'm happy with the job I did."
Frank Yu (HK), Age: 42. Born: Hong Kong. Lives: Hong Kong:
"Testing this morning was good, just getting back onto the pace. The second session was quicker for me – I'm eager to get back into the car and do more laps!
"Traffic is a bit of a problem because they come in a chain – 20 cars all bunched up together so it can be really tough to get some real laps in. But I'm feeling good, the boys have done a great job, car's setup is great – everything I expected from United Autosports."
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
"We had a difficult day yesterday with the #26 car having a power steering issue that took a little bit of solving but I'm delighted with the team who made a huge effort and today both cars ran faultlessly.
"We've been bang on the pace and been able to do whatever time we've needed to do to remain in the top ten – it's very rare you can say that when there's 75 cars out there so it's all positive right now and very happy."