24 June, 2012
- Bateman storms through field
- Team runs in P3 before penalty and puncture
- Spa 24 hours next stop for Audi team
Race: Timed 2-Hours
Weather: Cloudy 16c
Track Conditions: Wet 27c
United Autosports arrived for round four of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship still putting the final touches to the new Audi R8 Ultra GT3 at Brands Hatch in Kent, ahead of first practice on Saturday morning.
Matt Bell took to the wheel of the Audi R8 to shake it down and work through set up ahead of the second two-hour race of the year. As Matt put the car through its paces he had an off track excursion that resulted in a minor set back for the team as the clock counted down. With limited track time, the team didn't quite get the optimum set up they wanted ahead of qualifying.
Charles was the first man out for United Autosports around the Brands Hatch GP circuit. He was running as high as fourth before he pitted to hand over to Matt. The pressure was building at the midway point of the closely fought qualifying session, which saw the top 13 cars separated by seven tenths of a second. Matt pitted for new tyres with 15 minutes remaining on the clock but, as the rest of the field found, the new rubber did not give the speed advantage they were looking for so they had to settle for a seventh row start for the race.
As a field of 25 contenders charged into the first corner on a wet drying track on Sunday, Charles showed the strength he has been demonstrating so far this year, with another stunning performance, which saw him make up five places by the end of the first lap. He then set about hunting down the leaders to run in an impressive third place by the halfway stage of the race.
A quick turnaround in the pit lane by the United Autosports team saw Matt head back out to rejoin the race. Once the order settled down after the flurry of pit stops, the No. 23 Audi Ultra was still in third.
Matt was fighting hard and holding off the pole sitting Porsche when the team was hit with a one-second penalty for a pit stop infringement. Not to be undeterred Matt dealt with the pressure superbly and was back out on track running in ninth when a puncture forced him back into the pits with ten minutes to go. Despite his best efforts and a promising debut for the new Audi R8 Ultra, Matt was unable to improve his position once back out on track and crossed the line in 11th.
The next outing for the United Autosports Audi Ultra will be the Total 24 Hours of Spa in July (28/29).
Richard Dean (UK), Team Owner and Managing Director of United Autosports
"The result was definitely not what we had hoped for after such a promising start to the race. Both drivers did a great job, and we come away knowing that we have a car that has huge potential. We arrived at Brands Hatch aware that we had work to do before we hit the track on Saturday. The team have worked incredibly hard this week to make sure the car was built and ready to run. So all in all we are confident that we have made a step forward after our financial investment at this point the season."
Matt Bell (UK), Age 22. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. Lives Barningham, UK
"It was all going well at the start. Charles did a great job and handed the car over to me in P3. Then, we had a stop/go penalty for a pit stop infringement, which was really disappointing. Then, I had a puncture so I had to come back into the pits and we lost a lot of ground. The car though is much improved and we should be in a good position for the next British GTrace at Snetterton."
Charles Bateman (UK), Age 24. Born: Boston, Lincs UK. Lives: Boston, Lincs, UK
"The start was difficult because we started on slicks, and the track was very greasy so I had to be really careful not to make any mistakes. A bit of luck came our way at the start, and I made the best of the situation. The car felt really good, the balance is great, so despite the result, we have made progress."