United Autosports Brings Curtain Down On GRAND-AM Season In Style
· United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing #23 Ford-Riley achieves fourth top-nine race finish from four starts
· Mark Blundell earns best grid position of GRAND-AM season
Mark Blundell (GB) and Zak Brown (USA) brought the curtain down on a partial GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series by Crown Royal Cask No.16 season for United Autosports in style by recording seventh place in the season finale today (September 17).
The Anglo-American combination brought their United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing #23 Ford-Riley home a mere 5.157secs behind the EMCO Gears Classic race winners at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Blundell moved up one place to fourth on the opening lap around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio road course and briefly into third at the re-start of the first full course caution on 20mins before pitting to Brown during a second caution period Zak, who was fighting a fever throughout the weekend, resuming 10th with 30mins on the clock.
Blundell was back in the #23 Riley-Ford placed 11th after the race’s third caution on 51mins and was up to fourth place on 90mins.
Mark slipped three places to seventh on the same lap with just over an hour to run before making a final pit-stop during another caution period resuming ninth but was at the tail of a three-car dice for fourth place with 50mins remaining.
Blundell muscled the #23 up to fifth at the re-start of another caution, the top-five running nose to tail, before an eighth and final caution bunched the 29-car field for a final three minute dash to the checker which saw Mark slip two places to seventh after being nudged of the track in the closing laps.
United Autosports finished 13th in the Teams’ standings despite only contesting four races on the 12-race Rolex calendar. The United Autosports entry had previously recorded a fourth (Rolex 24 at Daytona), sixth (Grand Prix of Miami) and ninth (Canadian Tire 200 At The Glen).
Upcoming . . .
Penultimate round of the British GT Championship at Donington Park (England) on September 25 . . . American Le Mans Series debut at Road Atlanta (USA) on October 1 . . . final round of the BGT at Silverstone (England) on October 9 . . . final two FIA GT3 European Championship races, Zandvoort (Netherlands), October 15-16 . . . Macau GT Cup (China), November 20 . . .
#23 – UBS / Volley / IWI Watches – Riley-Ford
Qualifying: 5th Blundell, 1min 17.890secs (104.362mph). Race: 7th (+5.157secs P1)
Mark Blundell (GB). Age: 45. Born: Barnet, England. Lives: Royston, England:
“I’m very happy with today’s overall performance. Zak got stronger with every session over the past two days while the team did a great job once again. Our race pace was strong throughout and we were right in the mix up until the checker. Unfortunately I was given a nudge by the #9 car in the closing laps which caused me to lose out on a possible top-four so I feel disappointed for the team. I have really enjoyed racing in GRAND-AM. It’s been very competitive and I believe it’s an underrated series in the motorsport world. There are some top flight drivers and teams competing providing close wheel-to-wheel racing. Achieving a top-four at Daytona was brilliant and I must thank Zak [Brown] for giving me the opportunity.”
Zak Brown (USA). Age: 39. Born: Los Angeles, California, USA. Lives: Carmel, Indiana, USA:
“Mark drove a fantastic race and the final result doesn’t show just how competitive we were today. I was recently asked what the racing highlight of my year has been and by far and away, it was the Rolex 24 at Daytona. We’ve had four races in partnership with Mike Shank. He’s been great as has the team to work with. After having a lot of fun in GRAND-AM this year, I’d love to do more and we are working on that.”
Mike Shank (USA), Team Owner of Michael Shank Racing:
“Working with United Autosports has been a great partnership from day one. Having Zak and Mark drive with us has been really exciting. We had a strong debut with our run to fourth at Daytona and we had the pace for another result like that today – if not the luck.”
Roush-Yates prepared V8 Ford 5 liter modular engine, 4 cam, 4 valve, producing over 500hp. Rear-wheel-drive. Continental Tires. Weight: 2275lbs; 5 gears, paddle-shift gearbox. The Riley Technologies MK XXII is the most successful Daytona Prototype of all time.
Co-owned by Zak Brown and Richard Dean, the US-owned, UK-based team was formed in late 2009 and contested the 2010 FIA GT3 European Championship with a brace of Audi R8 LMS sports cars. Also competed in 24 Hours of Spa (finishing third & fourth in GT3 class on team’s 24 race début), Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Zhuhai, China (third in GTC) and Macau (third GT Cup). Competes in the 2011 FIA GT3 European and Avon Tyres British GT Championships plus 24 Hours of Spa and Macau.
Michael Shank Racing
Since moving full-time to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, Pataskala, Ohio-based Michael Shank Racing has taken three overall wins and 19 podium results, including second overall in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona as well as monopolizing the front row for the 2008 Rolex 24.