The sole American team will sally forth to take on the world Saturday (July 31) from 10th and 13th positions in the GT3 category for the Spa 24 Hours (Belgium). The team of Emil Assentato, Stefan Johansson, Alain Li, Mark Patterson, Mark Blundell, Zak Brown, Eddie Cheever and Richard Dean will start the prestigious annual race from the eighth and 11th rows of the 40-car grid.
Richard Dean (GB) set a personal quickest time of 2m 25.745s in the #68 Audi R8 LMS around the magnificent 4.35-mile Belgian venue with Stefan Johansson (Sw) at the wheel the â€œsisterâ€ #67 Audi posting a 2m 27.220s. Both â€œtimesâ€ were set in total darkness on soft compound â€œslickâ€ dry weather tires in the dying moments of the final 45mins session which finished 10mins before midnight. Spa and rain have always been traditionally and intrinsically linked and the weather Gods did not disappoint throughout the day which began at 0900hr.
Blundell says this is nothing new to anyone who has raced at Spa:
â€œItâ€™s been a typical day at Spa in terms of the varying weather conditions and a good warm-up for a 24 hour race in respect of ever-changing track conditions with gravel and oil on the surface. I had my first run in the opening morning session and my last stint behind the wheel gone 11pm so itâ€™s been a long day. Weâ€™ve continued to hone the R8 LMS in preparation for the race so weâ€™re looking in pretty good shape for the race.â€
The team has faced a stiff learning curve this year and harvested some impressive runs for a new operation in a series new to them. Owner Zak Brown has realistic expectations for the team and the increased horsepower should help see them through:
â€œI got out on track for the first time in Q1 so havenâ€™t had many laps today but thatâ€™s okay, itâ€™s an endurance race afterall! I was pleased with my times in Q2. Iâ€™m thoroughly enjoying the event with our incredible driver line-up. To have Eddie, Mark and Stefan onboard for United Autosportsâ€™ maiden 24 hour race is indeed a privilege. The Audi has slightly more horsepower since our last FIA GT3 races which is very good news while our engineering guys are doing a great job. The aim is for a reliable run to a GT3 podium finish come Sunday afternoon.â€
You can keep your eye on their progress throughout the weekend via Twitter @unitedautosport.