31 March, 2014
United Autosports accomplished its main priority in the opening three races of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races – and earned some valuable points at the same time.
The Leeds-based team making its BTCC debut with James Cole, who had previously only contested four BTCC race weekends, and BTCC “rookie” Glynn Geddie, clocked up valuable and crucial race mileage in its pair of Toyota Avensis at Brands Hatch today.
Less than 0.5secs had covered the fastest 16 cars in qualifying with Cole a mere 0.693s slower than the “pole-sitter” and Geddie less than two-tenth’s further adrift around the tight 10-corner, 1.22-mile Brands “Indy” circuit.
Geddie posted a 20th, 21st and a 25th – racing a front-wheel-drive car for the first time since 2007 – while Cole netted 22nd and 14th placings. Cole was spun out of the opening race while Geddie was nudged into a spin in the third race requiring a quick pit-stop.
Cole finished less than 12secs behind the winner in the 30-mile third race. James, part of a six-car “train” dicing for ninth place, led home double former BTCC champion Fabrizio Giovanardi earning himself two valuable championship points.
The near capacity 30-car grids featured seven past or present BTCC champions, 13 previous race winners and teams that have been contesting the series for over a decade.
Geddie’s Toyota marks the first time the Anglo-American team has completely built a race car. The build began in December with the Avensis completed on 18 January and was out on the track for a “shakedown” the following day, hitting the track for its first proper test session 24 hours later. Cole’s ex-Wrathall Toyota meanwhile was completely stripped and rebuilt during the winter.
The next rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup are staged at Donington Park, Leicestershire, over the Easter weekend (19-20 April).
#20 Drivecool – Toyota Avensis
James Cole (GB). Age: 25. Born: Southport, England. Lives: Liverpool, England.
“The important element is that we head for the next three races at Donington Park having moved forward in terms of gaining experience with the Toyota. We haven’t scratched the surface in terms of the car’s potential and so to have scored some points is a bonus at this stage in the car’s development.”
#21 – Toyota Avensis
Glynn Geddie (GB). Age: 23. Born & Lives: Aberdeen, Scotland.
“Every race mile I clock up is a step in the right direction as the BTCC is a steep learning curve for myself and the team. I’ve now some front-wheel-drive race mileage again under my belt. With each race we’re learning together and moving forward as a team.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“There are many positives to take forward from Brands Hatch but our first three races underline that we’ve a lot of work to do. None of us have previous experience with the New Generation Touring Car [NGTC] formula apart from James who ran a handful of races last year but we nevertheless made progress this weekend.
“We’re learning fast and that’s the vital element. James finished less than half a second behind reigning BTCC champion Andrew Jordan in the last race and he’d won the opening two races today. Once the cars were ready we tested as much as humanly possible, bearing in mind our team competed in the Bathurst 12 Hours and have Ginetta and British GT programmes running simultaneously. Now the season has started we’re only allowed to test on four days during the campaign. It’s a steep learning curve but our race pace improved each time today.”