United Autosports Suffer Massive Disappointment in Spa 24 Hours

28 July, 2013

Twenty-four hour motor races are rarely won in the opening minutes but they can certainly be lost and that was the unfortunate case for United Autosports in the 65th edition of the legendary Total 24 Hours Of Spa this weekend (27-28 July).

On only the second lap with just five minutes on the clock and with Glynn Geddie (GB) at the wheel, the Anglo-American team’s Audi R8 LMS ultra was hit hard and launched in to a spin at the La Source hairpin.

And while Geddie set competitive lap times before a scheduled pit-stop for a driver change and full service (fuel and tires), Mark Patterson (USA) pitted with almost 90mins on the clock to repair the front nose “splitter” and have the right rear upright replaced – both of which were damaged in the contact at the beginning of the race.

The 46min pit-stop for repairs effectively scuppered any chance the Audi R8 LMS ultra of Will Bratt (GB), Geddie (GB) Alain Li (F) and Patterson (USA) had of claiming a top-result in the ultra-competitive Pro-Am category.

Ultimately a rare Audi engine failure after four hours – the first United Autosports has suffered in 62 races since the team’s formation in 2010 – brought a halt to its one-off Blancpain Endurance Series appearance which marked the team’s fourth consecutive year of contesting the annual Spa race – arguably the most important and prestigious GT3 sports car race in the world.

Indeed 28 of the 65-cars contested the Pro-Am category with many featuring “factory” manufacturer drivers – plus ex-Formula One “pilots” – with teams from throughout Europe, Russia and the Ukraine such was the level of competition in the “blue ribband” event which was run in mainly warm, dry and humid conditions.

Race Facts – #125 Allied World/UBS/Viglen Audi R8 LMS ultra
16:30 Start: 53rd/26th Geddie
16:35 50th Geddie, tagged into spin at La Source, resumes 61st almost one lap down
17:00 Safety Car, 54th Geddie (clearing accident damage from track)
17:13 Race resumes, 43rd/22nd Geddie
Position after 1hr: 40th/17th, -2 laps
17:31 40th Geddie, full service (fuel and tires) to Patterson, resumes 56th/25th
17:48 Safety Car, Patterson 50th/22nd (clearing accident damage from track)
17:54 50th/22nd Patterson pits, front splitter & right rear upright replaced, both damaged when Geddie was spun around (16:35). Patterson resumes (18:40) after 46mins pit-stop, 59th/25th
17:59 Race resumes
Position after 2hrs: 56th/24th, -16 laps
19:00 Patterson spins at T13, resumes no contact
Position after 3hrs: 59th/25th, -20 laps
19:39 59th/25th Patterson, full service (fuel and tires) to Bratt, resumes 59th/25th
20:04 57th/24th Bratt pits, reports engine down on power, fuel, electrics re-booted, resumes 56th/24th
20:25 56th/24th Bratt pits, reports down on power
Position after 4hrs: 56th/24th, -68 laps
21:29 Officially retired, engine
* Overall/Pro-Am class positions

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.
“I took over from Mark [Patterson] and as soon as I left the pits and accelerated up the hill, the engine didn’t feel right – it was down on power. I reported this back to the pits and we gave it a couple of laps to see whether it would sort itself out but it got worse – the other Audi cars were flying past so I pitted. The team rebooted the electrics but the problem remained so after a further 20mins I pitted again. The Audi Sport technicians looked over the engine for over an hour before it was decided to call it a day. It was a sad and frustrating end to my first 24 hour race but working with United Autosports for a second time was good fun.”

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 started the race but was launched in to by a Mercedes at the beginning of the second lap! To take a lunge down my inside going into a right-hand hairpin like that just five minutes in, was stupid and ruined our race as the impact caused a lot of damage and ultimately forced us to make a lengthy pit-stop for repairs. For something like that to happen so early in a 24 hour race is soul destroying. Ultimately we were sidelined with an engine issue which was a great shame as I’m certain we could have recovered and achieved a decent 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.
“Luck wasn’t on our side this year – that said I’m already looking forward to 2014! The potential was there despite Audi’s performance being restricted on this occasion. Getting hit is out of our control while a mechanical problem with an Audi is so rare but that’s motor racing.”

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).
“It was my fourth consecutive year with United in an Audi at Spa and we’d obviously hoped for a respectable showing. But the Balance of Performance affected all of the Audi sports cars this time. Getting hit so early in the race was inexcusable. So our race was on the wrong trajectory from the start and unfortunately by the time Will began his stint, irreparable engine damage took us out of the contest which was very sad. It’s now a case of concentrating on winning the BGT title with Matt Bell.”

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“We’ve done a lot of racing with the Audi and this is our first engine failure. It’s not as if we’ve only done ‘sprint’ races with the R8, we’ve been here for the last four years and have done the Dubai 24 Hours plus 12 hour races in Abu Dhabi and Bathurst. There’s a first time for everything but it doesn’t make it any easier for the entire team who’ve put a lot of effort in for this race. It’s rare as Audi’s reliability is second to none. It’s disappointing for all four drivers but especially for Glynn, who was driving the Audi for the first time, for Will who was competing in his first 24 hour race and Alain who didn’t get in to the car during the race. It’s made even more frustrating because the reports back from the drivers was that we had a good race car and our times were competitive. We will regroup and rest assured, a knock like this makes us even more determined to win the British GT Championship which we currently trail by just half a point so come Monday, our focus is the next BGT race at Brands Hatch.”

Upcoming . . .
Glynn and father Jim Geddie look to increase their advantage in the European Supercar Challenge at Assen (Netherlands) on August 4 . . . Second-placed Matt Bell and Mark Patterson aim to take the British GT Championship lead with a top result in Round 7 at Brands Hatch (England) on August 11 . . .

United Autosports Suffer Massive Disappointment in Spa 24 Hours