Britain's Mark Blundell (LEFT) and Canadian Michael Valiante will team together for the first time in a late United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing Ford-powered Riley Daytona Prototype entry for this weekend's second round of the Grand-Am Rolex Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Saturday race, which airs live on SPEED beginning at 12 p.m. ET, follows the Anglo-American team's fourth place in January's Rolex 24 At Daytona. Blundell was on the driving strength at Daytona for United Autosports' first North American race for non-historic racecars, while Valiante finished 10th there in a similar MSR run Riley-Ford.
“It's great to make such a quick return to the cockpit of the United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing Riley," said Blundell. "The entry was only confirmed 100 percent today, so I haven't had much time to think about it. But with flight tickets now booked, I am really looking forward to racing at Homestead.
"I raced there on a different circuit configuration in my Indy car days but never previously raced on the speedway/infield combined course. However, I had my first run in the No. 23 Riley there last December. It'll also be great to team up with Michael Valiante, who I met for the first time at Homestead and then at Daytona – he is a very impressive driver. I must say a big thank you to Zak [Brown] for putting this deal together.”
Added Valiante: “I'm very happy to have this opportunity to race the United Autosports with Michael Shank Racing entry at Homestead and am very much looking forward to co-driving with Mark. He's of course a very exciting racer and we worked together at the Continental Tire test at Homestead in December as well as during the 24, so I'm really looking forward to building on that this weekend. The No. 23 had an outstanding race at Daytona and I'd love to add to that with a strong run this weekend at Homestead.”
The further expansion into Grand-Am racing by United Autosports adds to the team's existing North American racing forays. United Autosports' chairman and co-owner Zak Brown is also a co-founder of the Legends of Motorsports historic racing series. From its U.S. hub in Indianapolis, United Autosports fields a full fleet of iconic racing machines on the Legends tours. This compliments the full-season efforts the team campaigns in British GT and FIA GT3 European Championships from its UK headquarters in Leeds.
United Autosports has also announced that Blundell, Eddie Cheever and Stefan Johansson will again join its team for the 24 Hours of Spa in July, driving its Audi R8 LMS GT cars. Along with Martin Brundle, the trio joined the squad last year for the Spa classic, and although a class victory cruelly eluded the British-based team during the closing stages of its first twice-around-the-clock event after leading, it still claimed third and fourth places in the GT3 classification. With the faster GT2 category cars not permitted to compete in this year's race, the Audi R8 LMS GT3 sports cars have a shot at recording an overall victory this summer.