United Autosports intends to use its recently announced GT4 European Series entry for next year as a springboard to an extensive GT3 program in 2022, according to team co-owner Zak Brown.
United last week confirmed its return to GT racing after five seasons away, in the form of a two-car program running McLaren 570S GT4s on the European regional stage.
This came off the back of United purchasing the assets of former FIA World Endurance Championship entrant Strakka Racing, including cars and the team’s Silverstone facility.
Brown told Sportscar365 that United Autosports’ plan is to grow beyond its confirmed GT4 program with the current target being an involvement in GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and other major high-profile competitions.
The team is no stranger to GT3 having previously operated Audi and McLaren machinery in British GT and the former Blancpain Endurance Series, which is now GTWC Europe.
“We won’t do GT3 in 2021, but we’ll look to do GT3 in 2022,” said Brown.
“While we haven’t made a decision yet, I think our intention would be to run McLaren GT3 cars.
“I think definitely in the SRO championships, Sprint and Endurance. The Nürburgring 24 would also be a pretty awesome race to compete in.
“I think one of the things about GT3 is how many different places you can race these cars.
“I think our main championship would be SRO [GT World Challenge] Europe, maybe Intercontinental [GT Challenge]. And then you could look at special events like the Nürburgring and Daytona, in addition to that.”
The team’s 2021 program in the GT4 European Series, will effectively put United on the support bill to GTWC Europe.
Brown, who attended last weekend’s meeting at Zandvoort, said the decision to choose this particular program was based on past experiences in SRO competition and the success of GT4 in the European market.
“When we started United Autosports, we started GT racing with an Audi in Stephane [Ratel’s] series,” said Brown, referring to the team’s entry in the 2010 FIA GT3 European Championship.
“I’ve been a big fan of Stephane and all his racing series. I think he’s done a wonderful job with GT racing.
“We’re really happy with how things are going in WEC and ELMS, but we also recognize, as our team gets bigger, that we want to continue doing sports car racing in healthy racing series.
“I think the GT4 series has become super popular. Back when we were racing GT3 it was just getting started, and I think the European championship is now really impressive.
“Our ultimate goal is to get back into GT3 racing, but one step at a time. We felt that going into GT4 for 2021, given where the cars are in their lifecycle, would be a good entry point for us.”
United Autosports is set to hire staff as it returns to the GT field with Brown suggesting that the team’s new venture will involve a mix of new recruits and existing personnel.
“Richard [Dean, co-owner] will want to have experience on the team, not only with experience in GT racing but people with experience at United,” he said.
“We’ve got quite a few people now in different racing series, so I think it’s definitely a combination of experience outside combined with some people within United, which means they’d need to be replaced so we don’t have anyone sitting around not working.
“We’ll effectively need to staff up for a new team. That will probably be some new people and some existing people, but the existing people [moving across to the GT program] will then need to be replaced with other people.
“That allows you to keep things fresh and give people opportunities within the racing team.”
Brown stressed the importance of keeping United’s GT and prototype arms separate, whilst also praising Dean’s efforts to help bring a new program online.
United also runs a historic racing business, in addition to its extensive prototype stable consisting of Oreca LMP2 and Ligier LMP3 machinery.
The team recently won the 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 class with Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque and Paul di Resta, wrapping up the WEC class title in the process, and also leads the European Le Mans Series with two races to go.
“What we won’t do is distract our LMP2 or LMP3 team or be a drain on resources as Strakka is a very impressive team that’s fully up and running,” Brown explained.
“It was the quickest and most efficient way to turn on a GT team effectively overnight.
“Richard’s done such a great job building the team and he deserves all the credit. He’s put together a big family. The camaraderie and the teamwork inside the garage are awesome.
“There are people that have been with us from day one, and there are people that have been working with Richard going back 20 years when he was running Team JLR.
“He’s really done a great job of bringing a big group of people together.”