DSC reported recently HERE that United Autosports were close to a deal to purchase the assets of the now-defunct Strakka Racing.
Whilst neither Richard Dean nor Zak Brown, both present at Paul Ricard for the weekend’s European Le Mans Series action, were prepared to confirm the status of that particular transaction (though it is understood to be near-complete), there was plenty more to say about the ambitions of United Autosports for a re-entry into GT racing, in addition to their current LMP race programmes.
So what can you tell us?
Zak Brown: “Well, here’s what we can tell you. We started in GT racing (pictured above in 2010). We are a big fan of GT racing. We think Stephane Ratel’s organisation does an excellent job with a variety of racing series around the world.
“Although we’re in a global pandemic at the moment, Richard’s done an excellent job of keeping United Autosports in a very healthy position and so there are some exciting opportunities out there on how we may be able to build our team and get back into GT racing.
“It is something that we are currently reviewing and hope to make a decision soon. And needless to say, if we could get back into GT racing, I think it’s something we’d be excited to do.”
Those plans we believe have been a time in the making but it’s pretty clear that you’ve been looking very carefully at a substantial uptick in acquiring assets to go GT racing. You’ve got this fantastic new place up in Wakefield – is there enough space there to add a GT programme.
Richard Dean: “We’ve gone from where we were operating out of 10,000 square feet to just recently, our new facility at 62,000 square feet. It’s amazing how quickly we did fill that.
“If we keep all the cars moving and in trucks going to events we have room. But we’ve also got room to expand there as well. But we’ve certainly got the room as it stands to take on another series, another category, which gives us economies of scale, which is what we’re looking at to try and navigate our way through what’s going to be a difficult couple of years as we come out of what’s hit the world financially.
“So rather than scaling down, it sounds strange to be scaling up, but certainly, spreading all our operations across multiple disciplines seems to be the right move.”
Are you going to hit the ground running on an international scale or are you looking to start in a more national scale? We’ve seen you racing in the big races in GT3 before now, but we’ve also seen you with national programmes in GT3 and in GT4?
ZB: “I think we’d be more inclined to want to do something that’s International as opposed to national. Though I wouldn’t rule that out. McLaren has an extremely competitive GT4 car and we’ve got some good contacts there.”
You know a guy?
ZB: “We know a guy!
“Almost all the manufacturers are involved in GT3 and I think we would like to have a manufacturer relationship, we’ve had different types of factory relationships. But let’s kind of see how things play out. But if we can add a GT programme alongside our prototype racing, that would be a good addition to the United stable.”
Are you targeting 2021 or beyond that at this stage?
RD: “I think if it was an international programme 2021’s a bit ambitious.
“For any international programme, we would want to go in there and try and compete at the very front, which means pro drivers. So that takes a little bit of getting together the funding.
“And here we are in Paul Ricard in July, although it’s the first race of the season we’re getting into the latter part of 2020.
“Six months to put together that sort of programme for next year looks unlikely. So I would say if it was an international GT3 programme it would be for 2022. But GT4 is definitely on the cards for next year. I think that’s where we’d be targeting for 2021, a programme in GT4.”
Part 2 of the Feature will take a look at United’s present and future in LMP racing, with Part 3 covering an exciting new additional programme for the team.
You can hear the whole interview with Zak and Richard on this week’s edition of the Inside the Sportscar Paddock podcast to be published later this week.