United Autosports Trio Qualify In Strong Third For Gulf 12 Hours
Starworks Motorsport drivers take Audi R8 LMS to superb top three in qualifying at Yas Marina Circuit
Competitive GT3 field leaders covered by less than half a second
United Autosports highly-impressed with fantastic Formula 1 circuit
United Autosports continued its account in the Middle East for the Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi today with a blistering third fastest time in qualifying, Scot Ryan Dalziel and Venezuelan pair, Enzo Potolicchio and Alex Popow, planting the Audi R8 LMS firmly third in class on the grid for tomorrow’s 12 hour race.
Sixteen cars have been entered for the first ever endurance race around the state-of-the-art 3.45-mile circuit on Yas Island, with a combination of GT3, GT4 and GTC-level Cup cars, as well as FIA CN-class purpose-built prototypes. As in Dubai for last week’s 24 Hour race, United Autosports has the sole Audi R8 LMS on the grid.
The Leeds-based team was one of only three outfits competing in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, along with AF Corse’s Ferrari F458 Italia GT3 and the Autorlando Porsche 997 GT3-R. In addition, the world class competition also features a second AF Corse Ferrari and the Kessel Racing Ferrari 458. The United Autosports Audi was one of several top GT cars juggling the times throughout the four qualifying sessions and covered by half a second at the finish, with Dalziel's 2:11.976s best lap time for the Anglo-American squad.
All three drivers put in excellent performances to finish qualifying third in class, and the very first Gulf 12 Hours race - with the Avelon Formula 1 Wolf GB 08 CN2 class car on pole position - begins tomorrow in daylight and ends under the floodlights, which has given the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit an enigmatic ambiance.
Having set some of the fastest laps during the Dubai 24 Hour race last weekend, the Duncan Batteries, Taxand and Soloson-sponsored United Autosports Audi is expected to produce an inspired performance tomorrow.
After the first six hours – during which time the teams must make five stops each - there will be a 90-minute break during which time the teams will be able to work on the cars before the second six hours starts during the night hours and another five stops during that period. Race 1 takes the green flag tomorrow at 09:30 am local (12:30 am ET/05:30am GMT), with Race 2 set for 5 pm local (08:00 am ET/13:00pm GMT).
Ryan Dalziel (GB), Age 29. Born: Glasgow, Scotland UK. Lives: Orlando, FL, USA:
“It's been good today - what an amazing place to come to and experience for the first time. After seeing it on TV, for us just coming over here and being able to tick one of those famous venues off your driver list has been excellent. The format [of the day] has been excellent; we've had lots of track time and all three of us are up to speed. We got a third fastest lap in qualifying and we're really happy with that; we're competitive against the Ferraris, and United Autosports has given us a very good, easy car to drive with the Audi R8 LMS. I'm just loving it and looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Enzo Potolicchio (VE), Age 43. Lives: Caracas, Venezuela:
"We got here yesterday and when you take a look at this beautiful place - probably the best track [I've been to]. It's very technical, very fast and we've only had an hour each to learn the track before qualifying but we are happy where we are and we'll have a good car for the race. We've been having a good run - we've qualified third with Ryan doing an excellent job at the end. The race strategy will just be to be fast and consistent; the Avon Tires have been good; there's no problems with dirt and sand like we had in Dubai. The Ferrari has shown some speed but we have shown we can be competitive."
Alex Popow (VE), Age 36. Lives: Lecheria, Venezuela:
“This is the best track I have ever been to. It's a very technical drive - you have to be fast, cautious and make no mistakes because there are walls and fences everywhere to catch you out. We have been getting to know the track since we already got to know the car in Dubai and actually we are very happy. Ryan just put the third fastest lap for qualifying which is nice. There are not many cars in the field but it will be a hard 12 hours - there are cars that will be very hard to beat and it will be a long race. We will go for it and as always try and win the race - it will not be easy, but for sure we will give it a shot."
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“We’ve completed 700kms today, which doesn’t look a huge amount in laps but it’s a long lap around the Yas Marina circuit. There have been a lot of sessions and the Audi has gone absolutely faultlessly which I’m pleased about. After Dubai, we had some electrical parts flown out by Audi and we’ve changed all of those and we certainly haven’t had a problem today or anything showing on the diagnostics data either. All three drivers seem very happy and they’ve all been really quick. If this race had stayed with the event regulations where the aggregate of the three qualifying sessions - as in the three fastest laps by the three drivers averaged out - we would have been on pole comfortably because the three of them are very close and very competitive.
“I think the CN2 cars will be a problem tomorrow but hopefully their extra pit stop penalty will mean that at the end of the race, by our calculations, every six hours they lose two laps with the extra time they have to stay in the pits. They have an extra 45 seconds on each stop they do, which is five stops more than us. It’s a two-class race – a sports-protoype class and a GT class and in an effort to come out with a balance of performance across the two classes, the lighter more downforce sports-protoypes have got a longer pit stop than the GT cars, which hopefully by the end of the race equals itself out.
“It’s a great inaugural event on a fantastic circuit and United Autosports is honored to be here as part of it. The organizers couldn’t be more accommodating, this event is definitely going to get bigger and we’ll be part of it.”