- Brands Hatch GP track debutant Burgan shows good pace in Audi throughout weekend
Defending GT Cup Champions United Autosports bounced back in style from its season-opening Donington Park disappointment in the latest rounds at Brands Hatch last weekend (9-10 May).
Leeds-based businessman Phil Burgan, racing on the demanding, ultra-fast 2.433-mile Grand Prix track for the first time, swept the Maria Mallaband Care Group Ltd Audi R8 LMS ultra to fourth, second and third place class finishes in the three races.
Additionally the weekend included a pole-position secured in qualifying plus two second row starts to underline the Anglo-American team’s competitiveness in the series it won outright as well as taking GTO honours last season.
In contention for a podium in Saturday’s 50mins compulsory pit-stop race, Burgan lost crucial time when he was badly held up by a slower car during a Safety Car phase. The delay allowed his leading Audi to be overhauled by the more experienced “professional” drivers when the race resumed.
Everything fell into place for Sunday’s opening 25mins race when Phil scored Audi’s very first GT Cup Championship podium. Starting third on the 32-car grid, Burgan finished just 3.626secs behind the winner after 16-laps despite Phil backing off when the Audi developed a handling issue during the second half of the race.
Burgan spent much of the weekend’s final race at the back of a three-car scrap for second place but a “moment” coming through Graham Hill Bend saw the Audi drop away in the closing stages. Rounds 7, 8 & 9 are held at Rockingham, Northamptonshire, over 23-24 May
“I can take a lot of positives away from this weekend with a pole, two class rostrums plus a 100% finishing record so I have a lot to take forward to the next races at Rockingham. I started the opening race on Saturday from pole-position and led for a couple of laps before a Safety Car period that ultimately cost me a possible class podium. The full course yellow coincided with the pit-stop window opening so most pitted, but a Porsche, heading to the pits but travelling at a ridiculously slow speed, allowed the ‘pro’ drivers who were now in the cars, to reduce my lead advantage. When the race went back to green I was not surprisingly swallowed up by the more experienced ‘pro’ drivers.
“Starting Sunday’s first race from third on the grid, I got into second place going into Paddock Hill but ran wide at Graham Hill corner which cost me a place. But I got my head down, closed the gap, and got back into second place. However the rear tyres lost grip, giving me a couple of hairy moments, forcing me to settle for a second place finish which was a shame as I felt I could have challenged the winning Aston but for this problem. I had a nice little dice for second overall and the class win in the third race before the handling went off again. I had moment at Graham Hill which cost me a lot of time. I need to learn how to ‘manage’ the change in handling characteristics during a race but all in all, a good, solid weekend.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“It’s been a really good weekend especially considering the opening races at Donington when we came away from there massively disappointed having been on the pace but not finishing any race. So to come to the next rounds at Brands, get pole and ultimately second, third and fourth placings in GTO is a great turnaround. Phil’s now importantly got some racing mileage under his belt and that can only be good for the rest of the season.
“It was a great effort by Phil to snatch pole in qualifying on Saturday which shows the true pace of Phil and the Audi. He kept cool as the clock wound down but traffic constantly thwarted a decent lap time. However, he seized the opportunity when a clear lap came with only 2 minutes to go and put a very good lap together. Even more praiseworthy as it was Phil’s first visit to the Grand Prix circuit.
“Saturday’s race went to plan, fighting for the lead up until the pit stop. Our guys turned Phil around quickly and Phil resumed with a good lead still under Safety Car conditions. But then we were held up badly, unable to overtake a Porsche limping back to the pits, which allowed the chasing pack to close up. Phil had no chance to hold off six cars, which had switched to ‘professional’ drivers in their pit-stops. In both of Sunday’s races Phil drove consistently well. He’s learning about the Audi in every racing lap and I’m sure our first win is just around the corner.”