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United Autosports see positives in disappointing weekend

The United Autosports British Touring Car Championship outfit were left frustrated after another weekend of what could have been at Brands Hatch brought their rookie season in the championship to a disappointing end.

Having worked miracles for a second time in 2014 to get James Cole’s machine prepared for the event after a shunt at Silverstone, the team’s efforts appeared to have been rewarded in the 26-year-old’s first full session of running, as Cole qualified in 7th place ahead of Sunday’s first race, having timed his run perfectly in changeable conditions.

The Liverpool-based racer had insisted that it would be hard to hold onto that position, and despite some stout defending, did eventually drop down the order. He and teammate Luke Hines – who had worked himself into 12th place – had nevertheless both been set to score points in the opener, until the latter was tapped into a spin by Quantel Bifold Racing’s Marc Hynes, with the unfortunate Cole collecting his teammate into Graham Hill bend, forcing the pair to retire.

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And with the pair unable to score in either of the day’s second or third races, the team ended the season with 22 points, placing them 14th in the teams’ championship.

Cole ended the season in 26th place in the standings with five points to his name, but given his struggles coming into the weekend, remained satisfied with the progress he and the team had made.

“Considering the lack of running prior to qualifying, a seventh place grid start was a fantastic effort especially taking into account the tricky conditions running on ‘slicks’ on a drying track. It was great to record United’s first BTCC top-10 race start.

“Race One began positively and shows that when you qualify at front you can stay there. But with around four laps remaining, the grip disappeared and I was overtaken by a ‘train’ of cars before unfortunately crashing into my team-mate’s car that had been spun around.

“The engine began to overheat in the second race while in the last race, I initially made a fantastic start, overtaking five or six cars in the wet, but tried a little bit too hard and went off in to the gravel. Visibility was poor but the car felt quite good.

“[It was] Definitely a positive weekend. We have made big progress throughout the season although the results do not necessarily show that.”

Teammate Hines was similarly encouraged by the pace that he and his Toyota Avensis were able to demonstrate at the Kent circuit, despite results not reflecting that form.

“The team continues to move forward with its BTCC programme by working hard,” insisted 32-year-old Hines. “There was more time in the car and I in qualifying. It was the first time I’d every driven the Toyota in wet or damp conditions and I was caught out with the red flag.

“We didn’t achieve the [race] results we wanted or deserved today but there are many positives to take away. James and I could easily have recorded top-15 finishes in each race but incidents occur in touring car racing.

“I got tapped into a spin in the opening race when a top-12 looked an odds on result. The Toyota felt really nice in the second race until it had a suspension problem quite possibly as a result from the first race. The third race in the rain was a lottery. I have enjoyed the experience with United over the last two BTCC events.”

Despite the team’s season-best results being a pair of 12th-place finishes for Glynn Geddie earlier in the season and the disappointment of the Brands meeting, Team Owner and Managing Director Richard Dean insisted that there was plenty for his outfit to take from the season.

“Once again we haven’t got through a weekend without substantial damage,” said Dean. “It was all looking so promising for James when he qualified seventh after a really good job. It was a big lift to the team and it’s first real reward for all of the year’s hard work.

“In Race One when one of our cars is spun around only for our other car to hit it is typical. In many respects that incident summed our year up. We certainly justified a top-10 finish today and could easily have recorded other top-15 finishes. We have a lot to take from the season.”

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