- Patterson unfortunate when debris punctures right rear tyre
- Front left suspension damage after contact causes retirement
- Potential podium result at Rockingham slips away
United Autosports’ luck must turn in its favour for the fourth round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Silverstone next month – or so the Anglo-American team is hoping.
Having achieved a fourth place in the opening round of the 10-race series at Oulton Park on Easter Monday, the United Autosports Audi R8 LMS ultra was then punted out of the lead and into instant retirement by an over enthusiastic overtaking manoeuvre in the second race.
In today’s two-hour race around the 2.05-mile Rockingham “International Long” circuit, Mark Patterson started from third place on the 29-car grid – the team confident of at least a top-three finish if not victory.
Mark was briefly up to fourth after 25mins but almost immediately pitted with a puncture incurred running over on-track debris – resuming 17th with four new tyres but critically one-lap down on the leaders.
Patterson, who had been up to two seconds faster a lap compared to the leader after his pit-stop, then made an error of judgement in the confusion at the re-start of the race following a Safety Car period, contacting a GT4 car resulting in a broken front left suspension upright and instant retirement 30mins into the race.
#23 Allied World / Henderson– Audi R8 LMS ultra
Matt Bell (GB). Age: 24. Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne & Wear, England. Lives: Barningham nr Richmond, North Yorkshire, England.
“The weekend was looking positive and we were in a strong position with no pit-stop ‘success’ penalties. Mark made a great start getting up to second place. We knew we wouldn’t have the pace in the opening laps so he dropped down a few places before coming back into the race and it was looking good for us.
“But a puncture put us a lap down and then the Race Director re-starts the race without the field bunched up and Mark is caught out in the confusion resulting in a second consecutive non-finish which is massively disappointing.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 62. Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Bronxville, New York State, USA.
“I dropped some places at the start due to me not exiting Turn One fast enough but also wanted to be careful with the tyres. I clawed back some places, a couple of Astons kindly took themselves out, so I was up to fourth but it was short lived as I then had to pit with a punctured tyre – I assume I ran over some debris somewhere.
“Despite going a lap down, I think a top-10 was still possible as my pace was good on new tyres. I was behind a GT4 car during the Safety Car period and it seemed he didn’t want to catch up with the car ahead of him ready for the re-start. There were green flags being shown at my section of the track and for a moment I thought the GT4 car was letting me through. At that second the team radioed me to stay in position, I jumped on the brake but must have hit the accelerator by accident and I went into the side of him. It was totally my fault.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“We brought some of the problems on ourselves today but we showed good pace, with both drivers, in all of the sessions so as far as the rest of the season is concerned, we’ll be up there in most of the races fighting for podiums.
“The Audi is exceptional concerning its low tyre wear rate, especially in a two hour race, but unfortunately Mark got involved with a GT4 car in the confusion at the re-start of a Safety Car period.
“The field was not bunched up, as it should be in my opinion, for a re-start. Mark saw green flags signalling the re-start of the race believing he could overtake at that point on the track, he thought the GT4 car ahead of him was moving to the side to let him past but then it came back across and contact was made.”
May 04-05, Rockingham (one, two-hour race)
Rd 3: Qualifying: 3rd #23, 2m 48.071s (combined). Weather: Cloudy/dry.
Race: Not classified (accident damage). Weather: Cloudy/dry.
British GT3 Drivers Championship:11th= Bell/Patterson, 12pts.
British GT3 Teams Championship: 11th, 12pts