United Autosports podium position woes at Rockingham
Superb drive by Bateman and Bell
Strong race pace projects team through the field
Freak incident knocks team off podium
Race Result: 9th Weather: Dry, overcast, cool.
Round three of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship got off to a promising start for the United Autosports team on Sunday after an impressive drive by both drivers put the team firmly in the top three and within two seconds of the leader. A stunning first half stint from Charles Bateman saw him move superbly through the pack to close on the leaders at the halfway stage.
Charles was the first man behind the wheel of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 on the Rockingham International Super Speedway, and he was quick from the off, showing strong overtaking prowess from 16th on the grid after a frustrating qualifying session on Saturday left them with work to do. Charles powered into the top five after 50 minutes of racing and was closing on the lead group when the safety car came out due to the third place Aston Martin hitting the banked oval wall.
So at the halfway stage Matt Bell took over the driving duties around the 2.05 mile road course and quickly set his sights on making up position. As the pits stop sequence closed the safety car came back in and racing resumed, Matt was quickly into third place by the end of his second lap. With twenty minutes to go, Matt was faced with a Porsche rejoining the track immediately in front of him. Unable to avoid the debris the Porsche had dragged back onto the track, grass filled the Audis’ radiator intake causing the engine temperature to rise. As the engine management system went into safe mode, shutting the power down, he fell back down the order. Matt worked hard to make up for lost time once the team had given radio instructions to overcome the problems but despite his best efforts he was unable to climb higher than ninth as they crossed the line.
It was a tough outcome on a team desperate for a result to match the efforts of the drivers and staff. Although the race did not have the desired result, the United Autosports team came away from Rockingham having been in contention for a strong podium position and a possible first win of the season. More development from the team is in the pipeline for the next round of the championship in just two weeks time on the famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit.
Charles Bateman (UK), Age 24. Born: Boston, Lincs UK. Lives: Boston, Lincs
“ I had a good clean start and managed to make my way comfortably through the field so that was really satisfying. We were strong in the race and to not get the result we wanted was disappointing for me and the team.”
Matt Bell (UK), Age 22. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. Lives Barningham, UK
“ After an unrepresentative qualifying position we knew we had work to do in the race. When Charles handed the car over in P4 we were in a strong position. We ran a good race strategy and the team gave us an excellent pit stop as usual. I had the pace and was able to move into third when a mechanical issue caused the engine to overheat, and we lost ground. It was a shame, because we had the pace, and I was closing in on the leaders.”
Richard Dean (UK), Team Owner and Managing Director of United Autosports
“We missed out on a podium today which is really disappointing. Charles and Matt put in superbly strong stints, and we had a good overall race pace. The team did an excellent pit stop, it was a bit of a freak incident that stopped our progress, the drivers deserved much better today, a win was genuinely on the cards. We hope to turn our fortunes around at Brands Hatch.”