Mixed fortunes in British GT for United Autosports

19 May, 2012

  • Strong finish in Feature Race
  • Superb pit-stop delights team
  • Mixed fortunes in Germany

It was a weekend of mixed fortunes around the legendary Nurburgring Grand Prixcircuit for United Autosports during the second round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.

Feature Race: Saturday

Qualifying: 12th - No 23 - Bell 1.44.309 - Weather: Dry, Cold.
Race Result: 6th - Weather: Dry, Cool.

After a disappointing result in Fridays race, the United Autosports team opted tomake some small set-up changes to accommodate the cooler temperatures around the Nurburgring circuit.

From 11th on the grid for race two Matt didn't quite get the start he wanted losing position as they headed into the tight first corner. As the race settled down he set about the task ahead but could not find a way to join in the battle at the front of the field. At the pit-stop window on lap 16 he handed over to Charles Bateman and a superb pit-stop by the United Autosports team saw him rejoin in 10th. Charles then got to work delivering a solid performance, enjoying a great battle with Jann Mardenborough in the No 35 Nissan GTR GT3 managing to pull out a half a second gap. He then set his sights on Hector Lester in the No 3 Rosso Verde Ferrari passing him easily to take sixth. With five minutes to go Charles was again under pressure from Mardenborough and after a close fought charge between the two he finally crossed the line in sixth to give the team a point scoring finish in what was a tough weekend all round in Germany.

Matt Bell (UK), Age 22. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. Lives Barningham, UK
" That was another tough race. I lost a place at the start going into the first cornerwhen the faster cars just blasted past me. I held on for the rest of my stint, but the car is really off the pace so it made any fight on track difficult. It was a case of looking after the car as best I could and having a good in-lap tohand the car over to Charles. The only shock was when my side window popped, and the glass shattered as I was flat out in fifth gear. That was interesting. It was frustrating, but we will be looking to improve as we head back to the UK and the next round at Rockingham."

Charles Bateman (UK), Age 24. Born: Boston, Lincs UK. Lives: Boston, Lincs
"The team did a great pit stop and even had time to clean the glass from the seat before I got in. I had a good out lap and headed back into the race. I enjoyed my battlewith Jann Mardenborough and Hector Lester. I knew the cars were much quicker so I tucked in behind hoping that someone would make a mistake. It didn't happen, but I was fairly happy with the end result today. We just need to keep scoring points now to put ourselves back in the championship hunt."

Richard Dean (UK), Team Owner and Managing Director of United Autosports
"Friday's race is one to forget. Everything that could have gone wrong did, and it was very frustrating. Charles didn't get the start that he would have wanted losing places, then a spin, contact on track, and a drive through penalty, so it couldn't have got any worse. Today, we approached it as professionals and the drivers made the best of what they have available to them. The balance of performance is definitely not in our favor, and they couldn't have gotten anymore out of the car. If luck had been on our side, we could have pushed for a podium. We only needed a safety car to pull the leaders back, and we could have been in the mix. The Championship organisers have got to slow the Porsche, Nissan, and Aston Martin down to close the gap. Taking all that into consideration I am delighted with the result today."

Race 1: Friday

Qualifying: 8th - No 23 - Bateman 1.45.487 - Weather Cold, Dry.
Race Result: 12th - No 23 - Weather Damp, Drying.

On a damp but drying track after a short rain shower, Charles made a strong start off the line making up several places to run in fourth. Then as they approached the first corner, he lost his advantage after several cars made contact in front of him. Charles then set about hunting down the leaders and made a superb move around the No 33 car of Jon Minshaw. A three-way battle with Jody Firth (No 15) and David Jones (No 22) ended in contact with Firth, and he found himself in 11th. After 29 minutes of racing he headed into the pits in 10th to swap with Matt Bell.

Once on track Matt did his best to make up position despite experiencing handling issues with the Audi R8 LMS. With twenty minutes, to go he got past Joe Osbourne to move himself into ninth. A stop-go penalty was handed to the team resulting from the earlier incident between Charles and Jodie Firth. With five minutes left on the clock Matt was battling hard with Allan Simonson, but he unable to hold him off and crossed the line in the Audi R8 LMS in 12th.

Matt Bell (UK), Age 22. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. Lives Barningham, UK
"That was a really disappointing race. We seemed to have some drive shaft issues, and Icouldn't engage the gear. At one point I was keeping pace with the Porsches and Ferraris but the handling of the car just didn't feel right. Despite that my, lap times were coming down gradually and then we got a stop-go penalty that put us further back. Towards the end of my stint, the handling of the car was really difficult and I was struggling to keep pace after a four-lap battle with Allan Simonson. We need to take a look at the balance of performance of ourcar. We are really off the pace and shouldn't be. We will go back now and have a look at the data to see what we can find before the race tomorrow.

Charles Bateman (UK), Age 24. Born: Boston, Lincs UK. Lives: Boston, Lincs, UK
"I got a good start and managed to gain three places going into the first corner, but I struggled to hold position as the car was off the pace. Then, I had an incident with the No 15 car of Jody Firth who pretty much stopped on the apex to thecorner, and I couldn't avoid him. I'm really disappointed in the performance of the car and in myself. Tomorrow is a different day so we will do what we can to put ourselves in a better position."

Mixed fortunes in British GT for United Autosports