United Autosports had a challenging weekend during round three of the GT4 European Series at Zandvoort this weekend as the team returned to the Dutch track for the first time since 2013.
Charlie Fagg secured a Silver Class pole position on Saturday during the second qualifying session, starting the #23 McLaren 570S third on the grid for race two earlier today (20 June), while Dean Macdonald qualified P25. During the first qualifying session, Bailey Voisin and Gus Bowers struggled to get a clear lap and started further back in the field for race one than was intended – Bailey in P20 and Gus in P23.
As the opening race of the weekend got underway, Bailey Voisin made his usual good start in the #23 picking off cars ahead and making up a number of places and settling into a rhythm. Unfortunately, just before the pit window opened, Gus Bowers in the #32 McLaren suffered a suspected ABS issue and collided heavily with the barrier, bringing out the red flag so the circuit officials could repair the damaged barrier. Luckily, Gus walked away from the heavy impact unhurt, but the impact of the crash meant the team had to quickly prepare their spare car, while also having to take the mandatory penalty of starting race two from the pit lane. As race one restarted, after a 30-minute red flag period, Charlie Fagg continued to battle through the field as teammate Bailey had done during his stint. At the end of the race, Charlie crossed the line P11, any further progress through the field thwarted by the race ending under a safety car.
During the three hour break between the two races, the team worked tirelessly and did an amazing job to prepare the spare McLaren 570S, making sure it passed all mandatory checks and scrutineering, before heading to the pit lane to start race two earlier this evening.
At the start of race two, Charlie defend his Silver Class pole position in the #23 before handing over to Bailey for the second half of the race. Bailey took over, running in fourth, just outside a Silver Class podium position. An unfortunate safety car in the last five minutes of the race meant Bailey was unable to push the #23 to its potential and fight for a podium. Starting from the pit lane, Dean drove an amazing opening stint, recovering from the back of the grid in P36 up to P24, where he handed the #32 over to Gus to finish the race. Despite Gus’ heavy crash in the first race, he drove brilliantly, making up a further three places after a spectacular dive down the inside to pull off a double overtake. Crossing the chequered flag under safety car, the #32 finished P21.
The drivers and team are now looking ahead to round four of the GT4 European Series at Spa Francorchamps in five weeks, where they intend to extract the maximum potential out of both McLaren 570S GT4 cars and collect some more points for the championship. The next race for United Autosports is the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen on 25-27 June.
“It’s been a tough weekend, it is probably the weakest track for the McLaren. I think we scored some decent points, we might not have been as high up as we would have liked but I’m looking forward to Spa. Hopefully it will be a stronger track for us, it looks amazing and I can’t wait to be racing there.”
“It was a good race two, finishing fourth in Silver Class. Highlights for me were pole in class and leading my whole race stint. The car was well put together, it was a good effort and from a track that we knew we would struggle at I think we did our best to minimise the gap to our competitors in the championship standings. We look to Spa now and getting on a track that I absolutely love.”
“Not a good weekend at all with the ABS failure and using the spare car as a result. Race two however was fun starting from the pit lane and we had a good recovery stint. On to the next one.”
“Overall, we just have to look to Spa now and forget about this weekend. We have to take the positives that we can from it and all work together as a team to move forward and prepare ourselves for Spa.”
“It was great to see Charlie have the pace in his qualifying session and obviously a massive relief to see Gus walk away unscathed from his large crash which is testament to the McLaren’s safety. Lots of lessons learnt this weekend and we look forward to a test programme prior to our next race at Spa.”