A nine week break in the European Le Mans Series sees a reinvigorated United Autosports heading to the latest round this weekend (16-17 July) aiming to score a hat-trick of LMP3 victories. The Anglo-American team’s two-car Ligier entry are placed first and second in the championship standings after the opening two races (Silverstone and Imola).
The team’s start to its maiden sports-prototype season has been nothing short of meteoric – the Zak Brown and Richard Dean led squad undefeated in the ELMS LMP3 category. Indeed, United Autosports only just missed out on winning the inaugural “Road to Le Mans” last month, Martin Brundle – who had started from pole-position – and Christian England, finishing second with Mike Hedlund and Guy Cosmo, the latter setting the fastest race lap on his Le Mans debut, claiming fifth.
Martin’s son Alex, England and Mike Guasch have swept the #2 Ligier to victory at Silverstone and Imola while the sister car of Matt Bell, Wayne Boyd and Mark Patterson have netted second and seventh positions in the British and Italian races. Only Brundle and Patterson have prior race experience of the fast, sweeping 2.69-mile circuit nestling in the foothills of the Styrian Alps between Zeltweg and Knittelfeld, although all six drivers tested in Austria last month. Unfortunately, the test was curtailed early when England hit a stationary car that had spun on the blind exit of a corner resulting in the need for a new monocoque for the #2 Ligier and bruised ribs for the hapless Christian.
The 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring also marks United Autosports’ maiden race in Austria. Surprising, only in that since its formation in 2009, the team has competed in Australia, Belgium, Britain, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Macau, Monaco, Netherlands, North America, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. Practice is staged on Friday (1450-1620 local) and Saturday (0845-1015) with a 10 minute qualifying session later that day (1310-1310) for grid positions on the 38-car grid. The 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring is due to start at 1400 on Sunday.
#2 Brundle (GB) / England (GB) / Guasch (USA) – Ligier JS P3
Alex Brundle (GB). Age: 25. Born: King’s Lynn, England. Lives: London, England.
“It has been a great start to the season for us at United Autosports, so after the short break in the ELMS schedule, I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and keep working towards sealing the championship. The Red Bull Ring is quite short, so being technically perfect is all important on the driving side. It’s high-speed with long braking zones, high brake wear and low tyre degradation. I am looking forward to a clean and successful race. It’s also important to be inch perfect in the pits, where I’m certain that United Autosports will continue their exemplary work which allowed us to get to this point in the season with a 100% win record. I’ve raced at the Red Bull Ring a couple of times, in Formula Two and ELMS.”
Christian England (GB). Age: 34. Born: Barnsley, England. Lives: Huddersfield, England.
“I’m really looking forward to the race at Red Bull Ring having not raced there before and with it’s gorgeous surroundings. We had a test there in June and it’s a circuit that you can really push and attack on. Overtaking could prove difficult as usual due to the massive entry, but we head there hoping to extend our championship lead. The guys in the sister car will be pushing us so it’s going to be a fantastic inter-team duel as well as with the other LMP3 runners. It’s a short lap and the field will be very close in lap times. I don’t find the track that physical but you need to be really accurate and carry good speed.”
Mike Guasch (USA). Age: 58. Born: Palo Alto (CAL), USA. Lives: Martinez, (CAL), USA.
“I am looking forward to racing for the first time at the Red Bull Ring. We tested there last month and I feel that we head to Austria well prepared. The ELMS season for our #2 car couldn’t have started any better and our plan, not surprisingly, is to do everything in our power to continue this fantastic form by focussing on one race at a time.”
#3 Bell (GB) / Boyd (GB) / Patterson (SA) – Ligier JS P3
Matt Bell (GB). Age: 26. Born: Newcastle, England. Lives: Stamford, England.
“I’m itching to get racing again after the ELMS break in the calendar. It’s another new track for me so I’m looking forward to the challenges that it presents. My main aim is just to have a smooth weekend. Our car has had great pace so far but we’ve been a bit short on luck. The final Full Course Yellow at Silverstone snatched a potential win away from us and the puncture we suffered in practice at Imola massively compromised our weekend. If we can finally get a problem-free weekend and continue our form, I’m confident we can challenge for the win.”
Wayne Boyd (GB). Age: 25. Born: Belfast, Northern Ireland. Lives: Templepatrick, Northern Ireland.
“I’m really looking forward to the Red Bull Ring race. We had a very positive test there which left us all very confident. With it being the shortest track on the ELMS calendar, traffic management will be critical requiring 100% concentration. We’ll be pushing for the win as always especially after our car’s last round disappointment.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 64. Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
“Given the effort and results to date, we will be aiming for the Red Bull Ring podium. Testing there in good conditions in June produced some exciting and competitive lap times from all three drivers in our car. I personally love that type of ‘old style’ track. Overtaking with 40 plus cars on track will be a real challenge and could ultimately determine the winner. I’ve raced at this classic venue in the corresponding ELMS races for the past two years.”
Zak Brown (USA). United Autosports Team Owner. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: London, England:
“I can’t wait to see how the team get on at Red Bull Ring. We’ve had a great start to the season so hopefully we can keep the momentum going.”
Richard Dean (GB). United Autosports Team Owner and Managing Director. Born/Lives: Leeds, England:
“We are heading to Red Bull Ring in a very good position, leading the championship with our #2 Ligier, and lying second with the #3 car, but we are under no illusions that the rest of the field are coming for us. We had a good test there last month, unfortunate for Christian to have an accident, but we are focussed on achieving the same great results in Austria that we began the year with.”
Source. United Autosports