Andrew Watson completed his first British GT Championship season when the Trinity College Dublin student placed tenth at Donington Park yesterday. Watson, along with Scottish co-driver Ross Wylie, brought their Von Ryan Racing McLaren 650S GT3 sportscar home to their sixth top-10 result of the season in the two-hour event – the ninth and final race of 2015 which began in April.
Competing in the BGT for the first time after several years in various Ginetta one-make series 20-year-old Watson, who was selected as a McLaren GT “Young Driver” in January, quickly got to grips with the 650S GT3 sportscar and was unlucky not to post multiple podiums during the course of the season. Watson, who earlier this month competed in the International GT Open at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, impressively set the 10th fastest time in the ultra-competitive “Pro” qualifying session with Wylie fourth in his “AM” time trials around the sweeping 2.5-mile Leicestershire track on Saturday combining to earn a seventh place start on the 30-car grid the following day.
Watson took over the McLaren from Wylie at mid-distance, the Dublin-based Ulsterman resuming sixth but after contact with another car, dropped to 10th. Although Andrew notably regained two places to eighth at the chequered flag, a position that would have earned him and Wylie the championship’s prestigious Silver Cup, a 16-secs time penalty given by officials hours after the race, dropped the duo to 10th in the final official race results and deprived them of the silverware by 20.5-points.
“It’s been an up and down year in terms of the actual results I’ve achieved but I can’t underestimate the amount I’ve learnt this season. I’m so grateful to McLaren GT for the opportunity to learn so much from a great manufacturer as a member of its ‘Young Driver’ programme. Going into next year, I am so far ahead of where I was last September, which is excellent from my point of view. Hopefully next season I’ll be in a position to put this year’s experience to good effect and be rewarded in terms of results.
“Practice was messy. It was wet for free practice one and we struggled for grip but made some tweaks for the second session which improved matters considerably. This track is notoriously slippery when it rains because of the low flying aircraft landing and taking off at East Midlands Airport depositing fuel vapour. I was happy with qualifying but once again the additional weight handicap ‘killed’ us over a single flying lap. I wrung the most out of the McLaren and overall we qualified seventh fastest which was okay.”
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