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Brundle Returns To Rolex 24

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, December 10 2010

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

United Autosports will get its second year of racing underway next month by contesting the legendary Rolex 24 at Daytona with a stellar driver line-up led by Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell.

Brundle, the 1988 Daytona 24 Hour race winner aboard a Tom Walkinshaw Jaguar XJR-9, has been drawn back to the ultra-demanding Florida race along with fellow former 24 Hours of Le Mans race winner and Formula One ace Mark Blundell, who will make his Daytona début.

Zak Brown, chairman & co-owner of United Autosports, and fellow American Mark Patterson, complete the United Autosports line-up, which will compete in a Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype entered by Michael Shank Racing for the 49th running of the world famous Daytona race.

All four drivers will attend the “Roar Before the Rolex 24”, the official three-day test at Daytona next month (January 7-9), to acclimatize themselves to the challenging 3.56-mile, 12-turn combined speedway and road course.

United Autosports only turned its first race in April of this year and competed with 17 entries in Belgium (twice), China, Czech Republic, England (twice), France, Macau, Portugal and Spain. The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona therefore marks the first race on “home” soil for the American-owned team.

Brundle has become a highly regarded and multi-award winning Formula One commentator on British television since retiring from a Formula One career spanning 13 years (1984-96) and 158 Grand Prix starts resulting in 10 podiums.

Having won at Le Mans in 1990 with the Walkinshaw team, Brundle contested the French 24 hour four times after his F1 career. Brundle has made 67 sportscar race starts, including World Sports-Prototype/World Endurance Championships and IMSA events, claiming 34 podiums, 18 wins and 11 pole positions.

He has driven Jaguar, BMW Sauber, Red Bull and Williams F1 cars in recent years for media events. In 2005, Martin competed in the Andros Ice Trophy (Renault Megane) and in 2008 drove in the Formula Palmer Audi Championship alongside his son, Alex, who was a series regular. He scored three top-eight finishes from the three races in which he took part. Brundle raced in two rounds of the Scirocco R-Cup finishing third (Hockenheim) and seventh (Brands Hatch) this year plus three Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo races co-driving with Alex resulting in two top four finishes.

Blundell, the 1992 Le Mans 24 Hour race winner, raced in Formula One (1991/1993-95) comprising 61 GP starts and three podiums before switching to the CART World Series (1996-2000) which featured 81 starts and three wins (Portland, Toronto, and Fontana).

Daytona “rookie” Blundell, who continues to run 2MB Sports Management, which includes handling Indycar driver Mike Conway, also became a Formula One television analysist (2001-2008) and raced in major sports car races at Le Mans and Sebring following his single-seater career. Blundell finished third in class in the 24 Hours of Spa this year aboard an Audi R8 LMS co-driven by United Autosports co-Owners Brown and Richard Dean plus Eddie Cheever (USA) – Mark’s first race since finishing second in the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Ultra-successful businessman and entrepreneur Brown has concentrated on GT racing in recent years after starting off in karting before spells in Formulae Three and Opel Lotus, Indy Lights plus Toyota Atlantics.

Brown, who recorded a front row start and podium finish in FIA GT3 European Championship races in Portugal this year, fulfills a personal dream by adding a third continent – his “home” one – to United Autosports’ burgeoning profile by contesting the Rolex 24 assisted by regular Grand Am entrant Michael Shank Racing.

Patterson is by far the most experienced of the quartet in terms of Grand Am racing, boasting 66 starts in the GT and Daytona Prototype classes, where he has scored six podiums. He will race in the twice-around-the-clock Daytona race for the eighth time and is looking to go one better after finishing second in 2006 – one of four top-nine finishes Mark has achieved – all with Michael Shank Racing.

Like Brown, Patterson has raced a United Autosports Audi R8 LMS in the FIA GT3 European Championship this year, placing joint second in the Audi Manufacturer’s Cup, and claiming fourth in class in the Spa 24 Hours.

The No. 23 United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley entry topped the unofficial time sheets in the recent two-day open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, December 10 2010
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