Dublin University student places seventh in longest race of the year
Andrew Watson scored his best British GT Championship result of the season when the Trinity College Dublin student and fellow McLaren GT “Young Driver” Ross Wylie finished seventh in the Silverstone 500 (31 May). The Watson/Wylie Von Ryan Racing McLaren 650S GT3 sportscar clocked 74-laps, 230-miles, in the three-hour race – with Andrew finishing less than 20secs off delivering a podium result.
Their McLaren started the season’s longest race from the fifth row of the 33-car grid, Wylie at the wheel in the wet conditions. A Safety Car period lasting 23mins saw Watson briefly take over but it was Ross back in the McLaren when the race re-started their now slick tyre shod 650S GT3 running 12th on the damp track at one-third distance.
As the final scheduled pit-stops took place, Wylie pitted from second place with an hour remaining. Watson resumed ninth but was fifth with 20mins remaining – impressively setting the McLaren’s fastest lap of the race – after another Safety Car phase lasting 13mins to clear debris off the track. But the full course caution allowed the more experienced “pro” (professional) drivers to close in on Watson, having his first season in the highly-competitive GT3 category, and was unfortunate to lose two places with a mere six minutes remaining. Andrew drove 33-laps of the race.
Watson’s next race is the championship’s only overseas event of the season, a two-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
Andrew Watson: “Ross and I had a very solid weekend at Silverstone. I was very happy with my lap in qualifying to set the 12th fastest time in the “Am” [amateur category] qualifying on Saturday especially as I had to find the limit of the 650S GT3 in that session but we nevertheless started from ninth on the grid. The race was pretty hectic with changing weather and track conditions. Ross did the opening half of the race in essence and I did the second part and he did a good job keeping out of trouble. I ran fifth with 25 minutes remaining but then the Safety Car came out which bunched up the field so the pressure was on for a sprint to the chequered flag. My pace, despite the added weight ballast we have to carry on our McLaren, was good and I was defending against two Astons behind. But unfortunately I was unceremoniously shoved wide with just seven minutes to go resulting in me losing two positions which was frustrating. Taking the positive, Ross and I needed to complete the race to gain valuable experience of the McLaren. I was really happy with my driving all weekend. Obviously it isn’t easy with the added weight but my pace in qualifying and the race was really good. And I was battling with quick and more experienced drivers at the end. Hopefully we can get near to a podium next time out at Spa. The Von Ryan Racing team has enjoyed success over the past two weekends with two race victories. Thanks to the whole team who made all the right calls for our car.”