United Autosports makes stunning European Le Mans debut
- Anglo-American team places first & second in home Silverstone opener
United Autosports made a stunning debut in the European Le Mans Series yesterday (16 Apr) when the British-based team placed first and second in the LMP3 category on its championship debut. The #2 Alex Brundle/Christian England/Mike Guasch Ligier JS P3 finished ahead of the the “sister” #3 Matt Bell/Wayne Boyd/Mark Patterson machine in the 4 Hours of Silverstone – the opening round of the six-race series – both cars well clear of the field.
Brundle and Bell lined-up fourth and fifth respectively in the 19 LMP3 class car field following the earlier efforts of Alex and Matt respectively on the soaking wet Silverstone 3.67-mile Grand Prix circuit. Brundle completed the opening lap on a damp, drying track leading, while Bell made it a magnificent United Autosports 1-2 after 20 minutes, the duo both pitting with almost one hour gone amazingly from inside the top-five overall. The team’s Ligiers remained 1-2 after the opening pit-stop phase with a comfortable lead with Guasch and Patterson now aboard, but an open left hand door obliged Mark to make an unscheduled pit-stop.
Guasch pitted from the lead at mid-distance, handing the #2 Ligier over to England while Patterson, effectively placed fifth, stopped for fuel and tyres with 100 minutes to run. England pitted the leading Ligier for fuel with around an hour remaining while Patterson handed over the #3 Ligier to Boyd moments later for fuel. The two Ligiers took the chequered flag first and second to mark a fabulous ELMS debut – the Northern Irishman having made up three places in the closing stages.
It was an amazing achievement for United Autosports with all six drivers, fast, consistent and error free plus the team itself flawless during pit-stops. The team’s Ligiers led for 101 of the race’s 113 laps and also set the fastest two LMP3 race laps. The second ELMS round is staged at Imola in Italy on 15 May.
#2 Brundle / England / Guasch – Ligier JS P3
Alex Brundle (GB). Age: 25. Born: King’s Lynn, England. Lives: London, England.
“I had a really enjoyable stint. I went into P1 on the opening lap and really it was plain sailing from there. I just tried to build a gap. I am massively happy and impressed with the team. To come into this type of racing and put a two car package together that has beaten so many very, very competitive opposition, it really is to be commended. The work that Richard, Zak and Max [Gregory] and all the guys at United Autosports has done is fantastic.”
Christian England (GB). Age: 34. Born: Barnsley, England. Lives: Huddersfield, England.
“A fantastic result and I’m pleased with my performance. I had a difficult double stint. It was raining at times and I got shunted a couple of times in traffic. I just managed to stay on the road and maintain a gap. It’s was my first race back in 13 years and what a return!”
Mike Guasch (USA). Age: 58. Born: Palo Alto (CAL), USA. Lives: Martinez, (CAL), USA.
“It had a great stint. I took over from Alex who put us in the lead. I was jumped in the pits because we had an issue with the [seat] belts. I got us back in the lead after a few laps. I was told to keep the pace and stay in the lead which all worked out. It was a great race.”
#3 Bell / Boyd / Patterson – Ligier JS P3
Matt Bell (GB). Age: 26. Born: Newcastle, England. Lives: Stamford, England.
“The weather conditions made it very challenging but we managed to adapt. The start of the race was absolute carnage but luckily I was prepared. I quickly got into a rhythm. The result is fantastic and highly rewarding for United Autosports who put in a huge amount of effort. We blew everyone away and I owe Zak and Richard huge thanks.”
Wayne Boyd (GB). Age: 25. Born: Belfast, Northern Ireland. Lives: Templepatrick, Northern Ireland.
“Absolutely brilliant! I’m delighted for the team. Obviously getting a 1-2 after all the hard work that everyone has put in, in our first ELMS event and on ‘home’ soil, is the most important and biggest thing. To get straight on to the podium in P2 is fantastic. We have elements to work on for the next race but I’m absolutely over the moon. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to start.”
Mark Patterson (USA). Age: 64. Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
“This kind of result is always down to a great team effort and after a lot of preparation and hard work. I had a door pop open but we didn’t lose that much time. We’d set our car up for wet conditions so it was very hard to drive in the dry but we still pulled off a 1-2 in our first race of the season!”
Zak Brown (USA). United Autosports Team Owner. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: London, England:
“An awesome start to the season! The drivers and team performed a great job. It doesn’t get any better than that. Now we focus on the next race and look to extend our championship lead.”
Richard Dean (GB). United Autosports Team Owner and Managing Director. Born/Lives: Leeds, England:
“It doesn’t get much better. A 1-2 dream start for the whole team who have put so much work in – I’m very proud of them all. We may need to analyse our pit-stops because there is always room for improvement. Each of the drivers did exactly what we asked of them.”