25th July 2018
Andrew Watson is in Belgium this week for the iconic Total 24 Hours of Spa and, teaming back up with Garage 59 in the McLaren 650S GT3, Andrew is confident the car still has race-winning potential after a career-best 3rd place finish at Paul Richard.
The Total 24 Hours of Spa takes place this week at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. The undulating 4.352-mile circuit is a stern test for both man and machine, with unpredictable weather just another challenge faced by the drivers over the course of the 24 hours.
The previous round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup saw Andrew have an inspired qualifying performance, securing provisional pole after his session and eventually qualifying in second place for the start of the race. Andrew and the team then lead five of the six hours in the Paul Ricard 1000km, but ultimately brought their 650s GT3 home just short of McLaren’s first Blancpain GT Series win since 2016 as they were forced to serve a late-race drive-through penalty – demoting them to 3rd.
A late change to the entry list for this weekend’s Blancpain GT has seen Andrew moved across to Garage 59’s Am Cup entry in attempt to push for class victory in the Ardennes countryside. Joining Alexander West, Chris Harris and Chris Goodwin, Andrew is confident the car has the pace to win.
“I think if you’d asked me before Ricard what the expectations for Spa was, it was probably to go for the long-haul and see where we end up but now, I’m completely confident, as we all are, that we actually have the pace to win it. There is no doubt we have the lineup to win our class which is always a good mindset to go into an event with.”
Andrew joins an already winning team, with West, Harris and Goodwin scoring Am Cup wins at Silverstone and Paul Ricard in the two most recent endurance round.
Andrew’s two trips to Spa 24 Hours haven’t ended the way he would have hoped, with the Strakka-run McLaren failing to reach the end in 2017 and 2016 saw a retirement after 208 laps with Garage 59. However, in a new class with new teammates and new tyres for this year’s event, Andrew believes he can have have a week to remember in Spa.
“The new tires this year, for me, are a lot better and, especially at the last race at Paul Ricard, the McLaren was brilliant, It gives us a lot of confidence for Spa and I’m really looking forward to it.”
“The balance in Monza and Silverstone was actually good, it’s just, to be honest, we lacked straight-line speed.The SRO worked with us on that and once we got that sorted, it really just came to life at Ricard. It was great for McLaren to be back at the sharp end. It’s still a great car so it deserves results.”
The week’s action commences on Thursday with the first practice session kicking off the race weekend at 10:45 (BST). Qualifying takes place on Thursday evening, with the four sessions starting at 19:50. Friday will then host the top-20 Super Pole shootout at 17:30, with Saturday’s 24 hour race getting underway at 15:30.
Quotes courtesy of Sportscar365
Image courtesy of Blancpain GT Series