Ecclestone attends United Autosports formal launch

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United Autosports will chalk up numerous “firsts” when the American owned, British-based team contests the opening two rounds of the FIA GT3 European Championship at Silverstone (May 1-2) – a theme the Audi Official “customer” outfit hopes to continue over the weekend.

As we’ve mentioned before, we’re following this team because it’s an American race team that actually did make it to the grid and made it with style, professionalism, good backing, great cars and a terrific methodology for racing. I’ve been impressed with everything this team has done so far and for our American readers, be sure you let them know just how excited you are to have an American team, based in the UK, contesting on the main stage of European motorspot.

The Silverstone entry list features 33 entries from 17 teams, with 10 different cars on this year’s grid including Aston Martin DBRS9, BMW Z4 and Alpina B6, Corvette Z06R, Ferrari 430 Scuderia, Ford GT, Ford Mustang, Lamborghini Gallardo and Porsche 911.

Stiff competition for the team but tests in Portugal, England and France have produced good results and the team is looking forward to making a serious challenge in the FIA series.

If you are not familiar with some of the finer details of the series, here’s a little primer:

Two drivers share each car and must switch over during pit-stops between 23mins and 37mins into each 60mins race. The FIA GT3 European Championship is adopting the new Formula One style points where the top-10 cars and drivers are awarded points from 25 for a win down to 1pt for 10th place. Both of the two 60-minute races score full points so the maximum a driver and team can score from a weekend is 50 points. Success ballast is also added to the top-three cars at the next meeting, with 20kg for a win, 15kg for 2nd and 10kg for 3rd.

Two one-hour practice sessions (12-1pm & 5-6pm) on Friday precedes a 50mins qualifying session on Saturday morning (9-9.50am) prior to Round One (2.15pm) and then a second one-hour race on Sunday (12.15pm*). * All times quoted British Summer Time (BST). The FIA GT3 European Championship can be viewed “live” on television across Europe on Motors TV and Bloomberg television, with all the races streamed “live” on www.gt3europe.com

Another big event for the team was the formal launch of United Autosports at West London Audi on Apr 27. Over 200 guests were in attendance at the lavish Audi Centre in England, the largest in the world, including Bernie Ecclestone, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration.

Just when you thought Ecclestone only had eyes for F1, he defies that perception with an appearance to support the launch and team. Joining Ecclestone were Zak Brown and Richard Dean at the West London Audi Launch.

So how do the drivers feel about the upcoming event? United Autosport was kind of enough to provide us with some comments from their drivers and I thought you might enjoy their insight:

#22 Molecule / Cerutti – Audi R8 LMS
Michael Guasch (USA).  Lives: Walnut Creek, California, USA:

“My aim is a top-10 finish. We’re new to the series and the tracks, and to the Audi R8 LMS for that matter. So long as we can score points in both races that would be an ideal way to start the season. After Silverstone, as we become more familiar with the R8 LMS, we will gain momentum and overall position throughout the year. I’m looking forward to racing at Silverstone. This will be the second Formula 1 venue I have raced on, the other being Montreal in Canada. I think the new changes to the track should level the playing field a little between us and those who have plenty of Silverstone experience. I think we’ll be competitive but it won’t be easy – we’ll just have to bring our best game to the track.”

Mark Patterson (USA).  Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA:
“Although Silverstone will be our first FIA GT3 race together, I’ll be shooting for the podium – this has be our first objective – but as a season opener, scoring good points is absolutely critical. We came close at Oulton Park in the British GT series against some ‘golden’ competition but of course this is now FIA series competition. No one driver or single team has an advantage as we’ll be racing on a ‘new’ configuration of track at Silverstone which hopefully will be a nice leveler for us. We tested on Silverstone’s ‘old’ Grand Prix circuit last month and that was successful with all of us getting down to competitive lap times despite our lack of track knowledge.”

#23 Remington – Audi R8 LMS
Zak Brown (USA).  Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:

“For United Autosports to be making its FIA Championship race début in England, the country where our team’s raceshop is based, and specifically at Silverstone, with its worldwide history and considered the ‘home’ of British motor racing, is awesome. Finishing near the front would be incredible but realistically I’d be very pleased and satisfied if our cars were placed in the top-10 in both races. Our FIA team was only formed a couple of months ago and has worked very, very hard since getting the cars from Audi – it would be fantastic if these guys could be rewarded with good results.”

Matthew Bell (GB). Lives: Barningham nr Richmond, North Yorkshire, England:
“My aim is to do the best job that I can at Silverstone on my race début for United Autosports and driving the Audi R8 LMS. After just two tests, I’m on a steep learning curve – as is the team of course with the new Audi. I think if we keep our focus on doing a good job I’m confident the rewards will come. I’m really looking forward to racing at Silverstone. We’ll be entering into a new chapter of Silverstone history by racing on the new Grand Prix configuration. I’m looking forward to partnering Zak for the first time who did a great job at Oulton Park. It should be a great weekend.”

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“The opening rounds of the FIA series at Silverstone have come around very quickly! We are looking forward to finally finding out about the opposition and where we will be competitively compared to our rivals. United Autosports made its race début in the opening rounds of the British GT Championship over Easter. Those ‘warm-up’ races were a valuable experience in preparation for the FIA GT3 European Championship which is our main focus in the team’s first year of competition. We have tested intensively since getting our 2010 specification R8 LMS GT3 cars. Personally I can’t wait to see our two cars on the Silverstone grid!”

Keep your eye out on United Autosports. They have a terrific operation and I am excited about their prospects and to have an American team flourishing on the world stage of motorsport. While F1B is a global website with readers/listeners from all corners of the planet, we are based in the United States and every once in a while, we like to trumpet an American racing team as we have so few on the international stage. You’ll forgive us for our excitement and overt support of the local team?

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