Sunday, February 10, 2013

After strong pace throughout - heartbreaking end to Bathurst 12 Hour for United Autosports

United Autosports Press Release

After battling on track for eleven hours and fifty minutes, the United Autosports team had to admit defeat when an incident on track saw Brendon Hartley in the No 23 Audi R8 LMS Ultra pit for repairs with ten minutes to go.

Mark Patterson took the start and managed to keep out of trouble and stay close to the leaders. All three drivers did an incredible job and kept up a strong pace, bringing the car as high as fifth from a 14th place qualifying position, putting themselves in contention for a solid result. Alain Li and Brendon Hartley put in strong performances and at one stage the United Autosports No 23 was the highest placed Audi on track. With the predicted wet weather coming into play, it was an action-packed final half hour. Then with a mere 10 minutes left, the skies opened again and virtually all of the cars stopped for wet weather tyres. With conditions on the track worsening, Brendon slid into the wall and had to return to the pits. Despite the best efforts of the team who worked frantically to repair the car, they were unable to get it back on track to take the flag.

Erik Petersen (USA) Engineer, United Autosports
"It was a really tough race this year with traffic and some very questionable driving from some of the lower classes but in the end it is the same for everyone. Mark, Alain and Brendon drove a fantastic race. The weather played its hand in the last hour and twenty minutes that had everyone scrambling for wets and then dry, then back to wets in the last 10 minutes. We were hoping to just hang on as the rain was heavy up at the top of the mountain but less in the pit lane. With 8 minutes left we unfortunately made slight contact with the wall and that ended our day in pit lane with a damaged left rear wheel. All the team did a fantastic job in the pits with flawless stops, and the drivers delivered on the track. Just not on our cards this year. But, a great effort by everyone."

Alain Li (F), Born: Caen, France. Lives: Hong Kong:
"The Bathurst event just gets better and better. I had a memorable weekend with the team and with my buddy Mark. Our teammate Brendon impressed me not only with his speed but with his modesty and team spirit. I am hoping he can join Mark and me at Spa. The race was filled with as much drama as any I have ever seen let alone was part of. Our car was not as quick as some of the others but by being consistent we found ourselves running fifth and the leading Audi by the 9th hour that was a great achievement and certainly had the attention of the pit lane. Unfortunately, when the weather gods decided to make the race a little more interesting we were unlucky and got caught out with 10 minutes to go when a storm erupted while we were coming in for wets. I hope that United will come back again next year and that they will let me drive with them again. I could not imagine doing the Bathurst 12 Hours with anyone else. Perhaps it will be third time lucky for Mark and me."

Mark Patterson (SA), Born: Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Lives: Bronxville, NY, USA
"It was 11 hours and 50 minutes of flawless Audi parts, mechanics operating on all cylinders and all three drivers putting in lap times they could only have dreamed about. Problem is, this is a 12 hour race and a rainstorm right at the end created an unmanageable situation on slicks. Nicking a wall on Mount Panorama is like detonating a hand grenade at a Guy Fawkes party. Just a mess. I'm up for any endurance race with Alain, my trusted partner (in the car I mean), and this hot shot discovery, Brendon Hartley. What a great team and what a great disappointment for United Autosports.

Brendon Hartley (NZ), Born: Palmerston North Lives: NZ
"We had problems before the car went off. We had swapped between slicks and wet weather tyres, but it really didn't matter. The car was still handling poorly. We actually went back to slicks at one point, and in hindsight we should have gone back to wet weather tyres a lap earlier. However, I'm not sure that it would have made a difference. When the rear finally broke, I was just a passenger. I'm really disappointed for the crew and for my co-drivers. They all did a great job. I was quite happy that we were able to be the top Audi for several hours. Had it not been for getting caught in the back for three or four of the safety car sessions we would have been fighting for a podium spot."

Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports
"With just ten minutes to go after such a tremendous showing by the whole team the result is heartbreaking and hard to take. Brendon had no chance on slicks with the dramatic changes in conditions. The winds and rain were almost of biblical proportions at the end! This is a tough place but despite the heartache at the end, I am already thinking how we can improve for next year."

Photo credit: United Autosports