CHARLES Bateman was left rueing a ‘disappointing’ round three of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship – after a freak incident knocked his United Autosports team off the podium.
The race at Rockingham got off to a promising start for the team on Sunday after an impressive drive by Bateman and teammate Matt Bell put the team firmly in the top three and within two seconds of the leader.
A stunning first half stint from Bateman saw him move superbly through the pack to close on the leaders.
Charles was the first man behind the wheel of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 on the Rockingham International Super Speedway, and he was quick from the off, showing strong overtaking prowess from 16th on the grid after a frustrating qualifying session on Saturday left them with work to do.
He powered into the top five after 50 minutes and was closing on the lead group when the safety car came out due to the third placed Aston Martin hitting the banked oval wall.
At the halfway stage, Bell took over the driving duties around the 2.05 mile road course and quickly set his sights on making up position. As the pits stop sequence closed the safety car came back in and racing resumed, Matt was quickly into third place by the end of his second lap.
With 20 minutes to go, Bell was faced with a Porsche rejoining the track immediately in front of him.
Unable to avoid the debris the Porsche had dragged back onto the track, grass filled the Audis’ radiator intake causing the engine temperature to rise.
As the engine management system went into safe mode, shutting the power down, he fell back down the order.
Bell worked hard to make up for lost time once the team had given radio instructions to overcome the problems but despite his best efforts he was unable to climb higher than ninth as they crossed the line.
“I had a good clean start and managed to make my way comfortably through the field so that was really satisfying,” said bateman.
“We were strong in the race and to not get the result we wanted was disappointing for me, the team and my sponsors Pilgrim Foodservice.”
It was a tough outcome on a team desperate for a result to match the efforts of the drivers and staff.
Although the race did not have the desired result, the United Autosports team came away from Rockingham having been in contention for a strong podium position and a possible first win of the season.
More development from the team is in the pipeline for the next round of the championship on the famous Brands Hatch circuit on Sunday June 24.