- Phil Burgan endures tough weekend but demonstrates his and the Audi’s potential
Defending GT Cup Champions United Autosports showed that Phil Burgan and its Audi R8 LMS ultra will be a force to be reckoned with in this year’s 22-race series following the season’s opening Donington Park event last weekend (25-26 Apr).
While Burgan, racing around the 1.979-mile Donington track for the first time in almost 20 years, suffered three non-finishes in the Maria Mallaband Care Group Ltd Audi, Phil showed during the weekend that the combination will be ultra-competitive this season.
Having set the fifth fastest time in practice on Saturday morning, a rain shower as qualifying began failed to dampen Burgan’s spirit. Phil clocked the fastest time and was set for pole-position before he spun out while negotiating a slower car in the final minutes on the drying track. Ultimately Burgan started the opening 50mins compulsory pit-stop race from the second row of the 32-car grid but was up to second place on the first lap. However on the 10th lap, Burgan spun into the gravel trap and retirement after an Aston Martin, having just demoted the Audi to third place, braked earlier going into Redgate Corner than Phil anticipated causing him to take avoiding action.
Sunday dawned cloudy but dry and Burgan set the third fastest time in qualifying for Race Two – a 17-lap run that had Phil topping the times and a front row start looking certain until the last five minutes – the United Audi now featuring a new clutch. Burgan moved up to second place six minutes into the 25mins race staged in warm and sunny conditions prior to a brief Safety Car period. But approaching half distance, fluid on the track surface at Coppice Corner resulted in Burgan’s Audi becoming sideways under braking entering the corner. A closely following Ferrari, that had been disputing second place with Burgan, contacted the Audi’s front right corner resulting in suspension damage and instant retirement.
For the third race, Burgan began from the front row – courtesy of setting the second fastest time in Race 2 – but completed the first lap eighth, the Audi’s ABS (anti-lock braking) or traction control not functioning, a position Phil looked like holding to the chequered flag only for a front left suspension issue in the closing minutes prompted a retirement. The next rounds of the GT Cup are staged at Brands Hatch (9-10 May).
“Racing at the front was very robust, I’ve never had two let alone three non-finishes over a single weekend in my motorsport career but that’s life sometimes. It’s a case of me having to re-learn how to deal with competing for wins while at the same time ensuring I get to the finish!
“I was in provisional pole-position with less than five minutes remaining on a wet and drying track on Saturday morning but got off line getting past a back marker going into McLeans [corner]. I clipped the kerb and spun into gravel but more disappointingly was demoted to fourth on the grid in the dying seconds despite the yellow flags for my abandoned car.
“I was up in to second place by McLeans but on the ninth lap an Aston Martin overtook me on the start/finish straight, pulled in front and then appeared to brake early for Redgate corner. I went to the left to avoid him, putting two wheels on the grass, and spun into the gravel and the clutch gave out in my attempts to rejoin the track.
“I made a good start in race two and was up to second on lap one. But a combination of me braking a little later than normal and there being some fluid down on the track, I found myself out of shape going into Coppice, and the Ferrari that had been challenging me for second place collided with my front right corner. Then in the third and final race, on the pace laps it was evident that the Audi’s ABS wasn’t working which caused me to lose places at the start. I ran a ‘lonely’ eighth and looked like I’d at least see the chequered flag in one race but I pitted with two laps remaining with what I thought was a punctured from left tyre. It transpired to be a wishbone breakage. It’s just been one of those weekends but there is masses of potential in the car once I can exploit it all.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“Phil certainly had the pace in him if not a huge amount of luck with him this weekend. We will bounce back positively at the next round and I am sure we will see quite a few podiums this year despite Phil’s lack of recent racing experience.”