- May 28, 2013
- No repeat of 2012 win around F1 British Grand Prix circuit
- Brown & Parente in contention until mechanical problem hits McLaren
- Blundell forced to retire
United Autosports arrived at Silverstone for the season’s only three-hour race of the year with high hopes. Winners this time around last year, the team was to endure a weekend to forget in the third round of the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship.
Following a challenging qualifying session on Saturday, which saw both the McLaren MP4-12C GT3s and the Audi R8 LMS ultra struggle to find a balanced set up, the team worked hard overnight to get to the bottom of the handling issues before Sunday’s race around the F1 Grand Prix circuit.
The Sunday morning warm-up brought hope as all three cars occupied the front of the time sheets with the Audi R8 LMS ultra topping the list.
A rolling start saw all 48 cars make a clean getaway, but it was to be short lived for the No. 24 McLaren of Mark Blundell and Jody Firth. Just fifteen minutes into the race, Mark was forced to retire after being hit whilst defending his position on track, with the incident bringing out the safety car for almost 15 minutes.
A superb start by Zak saw him make up an impressive six places before the safety car was deployed for his teammate’s stranded car. A great pit stop and strategy call saw the No. 23 McLaren back in line with the leaders as the race reached the half way distance. As Brown and Parente moved up to fifth place, with the leaders all yet to make a compulsory stop, the race looked like it was falling into place until disaster struck when a gear compressor unit failed leaving the car stuck in gear. A trip to the pit lane for the United Autosports crew to set about replacing the unit lost two laps and ruined a certain podium position.
In the Audi R8 LMS ultra, Patterson and Bell were having problems of their own. Despite setting the fastest time during the morning warm up and third fastest lap of the race, the Championship front runners were unable to fight for championship points after a delay with a sticking wheel nut during the first mandatory pit stop, which dropped them down the order. Matt and Mark were consistently the fastest car on track for the last hour of the race working hard to make up for lost ground but had dropped to 32nd position and a lap down after the pit stop. The pair set about the task and pulled a lap back on the leaders but were unable to climb higher than 17th as they crossed the line.
Although the event did not have the desired results, consolation came in the form of the teams championship rivals also suffering a tough weekend with the three leading Porsche’s all retiring from the race.
Zak Brown, Team Owner & Driver, United Autosports, No. 23 McLaren MP4-12C GT3
“It’s turning out to be a challenging season for us. Today, we had all sorts of car problems, which are really frustrating. We were competitive with our speed during the race. The team did a great job; we just need to get some reliability.”
Alvaro Parente, Driver, United Autosports, McLaren No. 23 McLaren MP4-12C GT3
“ It was a tough day. Our strategy was looking good; Bernadette our race engineer is doing a great job. Sadly the electrical issues we encountered with the car meant that we lost valuable time and it was impossible to recover. I think we deserved a result today so I am really disappointed with the end result.”
Mark Blundell, Driver, United Autosports, No 24 McLaren MP4-12C GT3
“It was a disappointing race. We had a really good start, We started in P24 and were up into P17 within a few laps and making some good progress until I got hit. After an unrepresentative qualifying we had a really good pace in the race, and we could have been fighting for a top six finish. I’m upset that my teammate Jody didn’t get to race; it could have all been very different. ”
Jody Firth, Driver, United Autosports, No 24 McLaren MP4-12C GT3
“I was extremely disappointed not to be able to race today. The car had the pace to run at the front. It was not necessarily the fastest car out there because of the penalty we carry, but we knew that we could be competitive. ”
Matt Bell, Driver, United Autosports, No 25 Audi R8 LMS ultra
“We should have been further up the grid than we were. The car was great in the warm up session so I was pretty confident going into the race that we could aim for a points finish. There was potential, but in the end it just wasn’t our day.”
Mark Patterson, Driver, United Autosports No 25 Audi R8 LMS ultra
“It was a fun race for the most part. We had a drivable car, but I lost out at the start after a Ferrari spun ahead of me. Once the race settled down we were running well. Unfortunately, we had an issue with the air gun during the pit stop so that cost us a lot of time. Matt putt in some quick times but mathematically we could not get into the top ten. It’s a shame, but that’s racing.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner & Managing Director, United Autosports
“Qualifying was hard, and you don’t get many chances to get it right. We struggled, and we didn’t get it back in time for qualifying. The team worked hard overnight to produce a car for the drivers that would enable them to be strong contenders in the race. We were in the danger zone by starting too far down the grid. When that happens to you need thing’s to go your way, and unfortunately thing’s just did not go our way today.”