Brown Looking for podium with Cheever & Blundell

With the Spa 24 Hour race quickly arriving, United Autosports is ready for the challenge. With a stable of terrific drivers and support staff, the team is gearing up for an assault on the historic race. We posted a story on Mark Blundell’s return to the drivers seat at Spa and his teammate and team co-owner Zak Brown is equally excited.

Brown joined us for a recent F1B Downshift episode in which he discussed driving with his heroes. It’s no wonder he is excited to compete at Spa:

“I’m just overwhelmed with the drivers we have onboard for United Autosports’ maiden 24 hour race. Richard Dean and I only formed the team, which is American owned but based in England, and so to have two former winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in Stefan and Mark, plus an ex Indy 500 race winner in Eddie is simply fantastic.

“Fans were lined up outside our garage on the test day at Spa last week, carrying photos and model cars for the three ‘famous’ guys to sign – it was an awesome sight. Eddie, Mark and Stefan are all great friends and it is a huge privilege listening to them recount past escapades in Formula One and sportscar racing. For me to be driving our Audi with Eddie and Mark is a big, big privilege. It’s going to be a once in a lifetime experience for me to share a car with them and to share our team with these guys.

“I’ve previously raced at Spa on just one occasion, in 1993 I believe it was, when I finished third in an Opel Lotus single-seater race, so it has been quite some time. I remembered the track after some laps on the test day. It is still as daunting as ever, probably the greatest track in the world, and takes heavy commitment, so it was exactly what I remembered it to be.

“We’re now over halfway through the FIA GT3 European Championship, a series we have concentrated upon in our maiden season, and no question it has been difficult. The competition is fantastic, I probably underestimated it a little or at least overestimated how quickly a team could come together, but importantly we are improving with every race.

“None of us four drivers who compete in the FIA GT3 series, my co-driver Matt Bell and myself plus Mark Patterson and Michael Guasch in our ‘sister’ car, have ever previously seen, let alone raced on 99% of the tracks we’re competing on. During a race weekend we get a couple of one hour practice sessions then into qualifying, and then into the races themselves, so we’re having to learn an awful lot in a very short space of time.

“But Matt secured the team’s best qualifying position in the last race and we went on to claim our car’s best result so we are getting better every weekend – in fact we were the fastest Audi in the opening qualifying session so I am pleased to see that we are progressing, that’s a big positive for us.

“It is a great team with good drivers, good engineering guys, good cars in the Audi R8 LMS but we definitely still need a little bit more of a break in the FIA’s “Balance of Performance” system the series uses. At the start of the season we were handicapped with weight ballast and a revs restriction and although these restrictions have now been taken away, I believe that some of the competition must be reined back.

“I think we can get a GT3 podium at Spa. The 24 hour race is about reliability, driver ability and not making mistakes on the track or, indeed, in the pits. The Audi is a fantastic endurance car, we have got a great driver line-up, so I think we have got most of what we need to challenge for at least a GT3 rostrum.

“We have been blessed with superb, high profile sponsors for our FIA campaign. In addition to our regular sponsors, Remington, LG and Cerutti, we have a number of other superb sponsors joining us for Spa. These include FXDD, Robert Dubuis Watches, Legends of Motorsport plus Road & Track on the #67 Audi with the Singapore Stock Exchange, Road & Track and Legends of Motorsports on the #68 Audi. Legends in Motorsport is a historic racing series that I started with Bobby Rahal in the States.

“It is a great sponsor line-up and we’ll give them a lot of exposure so we want to make sure we can deliver for the sponsors, on the track and off it.”

Look for United Autosports assault on the Spa 24 Hours this July. The team has faced a series of tracks never before raced for some of them and some rules and regulations that have taken time to learn but they intend on making hay with the driver lineup and I suspect they will have a great chance to do so.

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