United Autosports' drivers, Charles Bateman and Matt Bell, showed tremendous pace and a brilliant driver combination amidst a day of mixed fortunes in the opening two rounds of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Oulton Park on Easter Monday.In very wet conditions and with Bateman starting from pole position, he completely controlled the race from the front, and by the time he'd handed the Audi over to Bell, Charles had eked out a 6 second gap. Between them, they built up a 6.6 second lead into the last lap and the first race win was theirs for the taking. Then suddenly with half a lap to the chequered flag, they were cruelly robbed of the victory with a last lap fuel pick-up problem. With total professionalism, the two young drivers put the disappointment of the first race firmly behind them and in the second hour-long race they both drove the wheels off the United Autosports Audi R8 LMS to take a magnificent fifth place and score 10 well-deserved points.Bell had been penalised for an indiscretion during Saturday's qualifying and had to start race two from the back of the grid. On used wet tyres and in diabolical conditions, Bell stormed through the field, picking off car after car to bring the Audi into 12th place on lap 10. By then the car was aquaplaning through standing water as Bateman took charge on lap 14.The Leeds-based crew quickly changed tyres and now with new rubber, Bateman left the pits in 17th place. He then moved up a place with every tour of the International circuit, and with the clock ticking down and 16 minutes left to run, the 25-year old starting setting personal best laps tour after tour. With a tremendously gritty drive, the Pilgrim Food Services-sponsored driver was up to ninth place on lap 23.
With five minutes to run, Bateman was still moving through the field and up to eighth place, losing no time as he passed two more cars to sixth. He then radioed back to say that there was a vibration on the car on the last lap as the rear tyre was shredding, but undeterred Charles made the final move to finish in a sensational fifth place at flagfall.
The second race result went some way to making amends for the massive disappointment in the first event and showed the huge potential of these two young chargers who did a brilliant job in the sole Audi R8 in the 26-car field. Their excellent performance showed outstanding promise and bodes well for the longer race scheduled for the third round at the Nürburgring Circuit in Germany next month.
Charles commented: "Race one was really good; the car felt great. I got a clean start, made a gap, then the safety car came out and we still had a few minutes for the pit window to open. I made a good restart and handed the car over and Matt did a great job until unfortunately we had the issue with the fuel pick-up with less than half a lap to go. It's a shame but we showed we're consistent.
"The second race was difficult starting from the back of the grid with lots of spray and lack of visibility, on old tyres and with a full fuel load. I got in and with new tyres the car was good but the track was changing all the time with greasy conditions. I made some good clean passes and I think fifth is a great result for us from the back of the grid."Click here for the Charles Bateman web site - designed and built by Racecar