- 2013 Donington victors miss out on repeat win by less than five seconds
- UA stalwart Mark Patterson goes out on a high with podium
- Bell storms through grid to take third at the flag
Matt Bell and Mark Patterson brought down the curtain on the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship in style when the duo claimed third place for United Autosports in today’s two-hour race (14 Sep).
The Anglo-American duo, who won the corresponding race 12 months ago around the sweeping 2.5-mile circuit, missed out on a repeat win by a mere +4.718secs, a result that nevertheless marked the team’s best result in what has been a turbulent season.
In qualifying, Bell posted the 12th quickest time – setting the fastest sector 3 time of the entire 31-car field – despite a vibration that turned out to be a loose floor that had to be repaired before Patterson took to the track. Patterson then produced a great performance to earn the team fifth on the grid.
Patterson, who started fourth when another car received a penalty, was less than half a second behind the third-placed car within 15mins but found himself shuffled down to seventh at one-quarter distance following contact with an Aston Martin.
Patterson handed the Audi over the car in eighth place with 67mins to run – Bell resuming 12th but immediately setting the race’s fastest lap at that stage – and was inside the top-six with 50mins remaining. Bell, consistently the fastest car on the track in the closing stages, was fourth with 32mins to run and swept into third with six minutes remaining – having clawed back a deficit to the leader of almost 30secs from when he had taken over.
#23 Allied World / Henderson – Audi R8 LMS Ultra
Matt Bell (GB)
Age: 25. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne & Wear, England. Lives: Barningham nr Richmond, North Yorkshire, England.
“The Audi had felt good in practice and both Mark and I were happy. I did one reasonable lap in qualifying, the tyres were still coming in, but then the floor ‘undertray’ came loose causing a massive vibration and losing downforce so I pitted immediately as I knew the team would need to make repairs for Mark to go out and qualify. Mark did a brilliant job, clocking a cracking lap to take us fifth on combined times. Without my problem a front row start was possible.
“Mark made a great start and quickly settled into a good rhythm but took a knock from an Aston which caused him to drop a few places. I got in to the Audi for my stint extremely determined after our frustrating season but also focussed on getting a result for Mark. I got my head down, the car was a little damaged from the early contact. It feels really good to finish the year on a high.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having Mark as a team mate and my co-driver over the past five years. He’s a pleasure to be around and he’s consistently proven himself to be one of the top ‘Am’ drivers in GT3 racing. No one in the team wants him to retire, I reckon he’s just reaching his peak! Hopefully we’ll still see him around the race paddock a few times. Congratulations on a great career Mark, you’ll be impossible to replace!”
Mark Patterson (USA)
Age: 62. Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA.
“We made a few changes between practice sessions which worked very well. Unfortunately Matt had an issue but the R8 was great for me after the repairs.
“I took four hits in my race stint – one so hard I thought the race was over but in reality this was Matt’s race – what an incredible drive! It’s great to take away some silverware from my last race.
“This marked my last race for the foreseeable future and almost definitely my final appearance in the British series. I’m retiring from full reason racing, and a business career spanning 40 years, at the end of this year.
“Looking back since my BGT debut in 2010, it’s been a real kick learning to find speed on some of Britain’s most renowned tracks, making friends with lots of good people up and down the grid, and even taking home some shiny reminders back to the States on occasion. Donington marked my 50th race for United Autosports and my 15th BGT race – it’s been a gratifying five seasons.”
Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports:
“It’s fantastic to get a podium in what has been a tough season – it looked like we had the pace to actually win the race. Matt drove a stunning race while I’m especially happy that we achieved a podium for Mark who did a great job today – I hope he changes his mind and doesn’t retire!”
September 13-14 Donington Park (one two-hour race) Rd 10
Qualifying: 5th (Combined), 2m 59.946s. Weather: Bright/cloudy/dry.
Race: 3rd, +4.718secs. Weather: Bright/dry.
Zak Brown’s ex-Mika Häkkinen 2005 DTM Mercedes centre of attention
The 2005 DTM Mercedes C-Class of “Flying Finn” Mika Häkkinen was on static display throughout the weekend and proved to be hugely popular with race fans. The car, which won the Spa round that year and scored a further two podiums in the hands of the two-time Formula One World Champion, is now owned by United Autosports’ co-owner Zak Brown who was in attendance at Donington.