United Autosports Ready for 'Battle Royale' in Spa Marathon
Friday 26th July 2013
United Autosports is buoyant and optimistic that good strategy combined with “clean” stints from its four drivers can deliver a top result in one of the world’s most important and prestigious 24 hour races for GT sportscars this weekend (27-28 July).
Will Bratt (GB), Glynn Geddie (GB) Alain Li (F) and Mark Patterson (USA) clocked up almost 100 trouble-free laps in the Anglo-American team’s Audi R8 LMS ultra equating to over 420-miles in the four on-track sessions during Thursday.
And the team, co-owned by Zak Brown and Richard Dean, believes that it’s capable of posting a top result in the Pro-Am (PAM) category of the TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa despite an obvious handicap. The R8 LMS has won the corresponding Spa race for the past two years but a performance imbalance due to organizer regulations clearly restricted the pace of all Audi sportscars in Thursday night’s two qualifying sessions.
Geddie, despite his almost complete lack of experience in the Audi, posted a very creditable 26th fastest PAM class time – a little over three seconds slower than the fastest PRO class Audi that could only manage 16th quickest overall.
Today the United Autosports team has conducted routine maintenance in preparation for its sixth twice-around-the-clock by installing a new gearbox, driveshafts and running gear.
Will Bratt (GB). Age: 25. Born: Oxford, UK. Lives: Banbury, England, UK.
Spa 24Hr: Début. Spa History: Début 2008. Spanish Formula Three Championship (2008) and FIA Formula Two Championship (2011). Other 24Hr races: None.
“The Audi R8 LMS is an enjoyable car to drive, totally different to the British Touring Car Championship Audi A4 that I’m used to racing this year, so Thursday was very much a case of me getting used to the R8 again after my one and only previous race in it last December in Abu Dhabi. It’s my first 24 hour race and last night’s qualifying marked the first time I’d ever driven competitively in darkness. I love Spa and it suits my driving.”
Glynn Geddie (GB). Age: 23. Born/Lives: Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.
Spa 24Hr: 2011 25th/11th. Spa History: Début 2009. Britcar (2009), Dutch Supercar Challenge (2010), British GT Championship (2011), Racing Festival Supercar Challenge (2012), Dutch Supercar Challenge (2013). Other 24Hr races: Daytona 24 Hours (2011 44th).
“I did six laps in the opening practice and then a further nine in the two qualifying sessions.
“Will, Alain and Mark have all previously raced the Audi so it’s a case of me catching up with them in terms of Audi experience. We’ve made changes to the Audi and improved it but due to the regulations that restricts our car’s performance, we’re not the fastest but so long as we enjoy a ‘clean’ race, I’m confident we can record a top race result.”
Alain Li (F). Age: 53. Born: Caen, France. Lives: Hong Kong.
Spa 24Hr: 2010 10th/4th; 2011 19th/8th; 2012 48th/23rd (all United Autosports Audi R8 LMS). Spa History: Début 2004, Ferrari Challenge Series (2004-8). Other 24Hr races: None.
“The Audi is very different from the Ferrari that I race regularly in Asia. I did the recent Spa test but it rained most of the day and I never got onto ‘slicks’ so it was good to get reacclimatized to Spa in the dry on Thursday. With four drivers, time behind the wheel is obviously limited. In terms of the race, I believe we’re looking in decent shape and with a good strategy, I’m certain we can record a good result.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 61. Born: Port Elizabeth, S Africa. Lives: Bronxville, N.Y., USA.
Spa 24Hr: 2009 17th o/a (Ferrari 430 GT3); 2010 10th/4th; 2011 Retired from 38th position after 5½hrs, mechanical; 2012 48th/23rd (all United Autosports Audi R8 LMS). Spa History: Début 2001. Lamborghini Super Trophy (2001). Other 24Hr races: Daytona (2004 38th/13th, 2005 23rd/14th, 2006/2nd, 2007/9th, 2008/6th, 2009/41st, 2010/7th, 2011/4th [United Autosports Riley-Ford]). Dubai (2012 18th A6/GT (United Autosports Audi R8 LMS). Le Mans 24 Hours (2013 6th LMP2).
“I was first in the car on Thursday and on new tires was quickly matching my fastest ever times around Spa. The Audi feels good if somewhat under-powered this year. The Pro-Am category is littered with very good drivers to the point the two fastest outright times in combined qualifying were set by PAM class cars which is a little crazy. This is my fourth Spa in an Audi and it’s always a good ‘race’ car so I’m looking forward to it.”
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“Our qualifying position is disappointing but I imagine the other two Audi teams are disillusioned too. Considering Audi has won this race for the past two years and the quickest R8 in combined qualifying was P16, something doesn’t seem quite right in terms of performance compared to the other manufacturers. Glynn was on the pace and only just a little slower than the fastest Audi. Around an over four-mile track and considering his lack of experience in an R8, is very creditable. It would have been nice to have had all four drivers at the Spa test day two weeks ago and get a day’s dry running under our belts on our first run on Pirelli tires but only Alain could attend and it rained. Spa is unique and we love it but it can be frustrating trying to get four drivers cycled through behind the wheel crammed into four sessions on Thursday. Glynn and not even sat in the Audi while Will was last in the Audi seven months ago so it was a big ask for either of our ‘pro’ drivers to deliver in qualifying. We’re buoyant for the race and as normal, the weather is likely to play an important role. We can’t compete in terms of pure pace so it’ll be a case of keeping out of trouble and avoiding unscheduled pit-stops.”