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Andrew Watson showcases strong speed at Brands Hatch with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK




Andrew Watson continued to prove the potential of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK’s Corolla GR Sport last weekend (11/12 May), with an encouraging display in the second outing of the 2024 British Touring Car Championship campaign at Brands Hatch.


After tallying almost 50 laps of the short ‘Indy’ circuit during free practice, Watson proceeded to qualify seventh in the high-calibre, 20-car field, narrowly missing out on progressing to the ‘Quick Six’ shootout by less than five hundredths-of-a-second in a characteristically close and competitive session in the UK’s premier motor racing series.


The Northern Irishman opted to fit the faster, soft-compound Goodyear ‘option’ tyres for the curtain-raising contest. He made full use of them to climb to fourth courtesy of a committed performance, only for a contact-induced penalty to subsequently demote him to eighth.


Poor fate befell Watson in the British-built Toyota, restricting him to an unrepresentative 15th position, but the reigning Jack Sears Trophy winner refused to be deterred and battled through the pack to a strong seventh place in the weekend’s finale.


The action will continue at Snetterton in Norfolk – the longest track on the BTCC calendar at just under three miles – on 25/26 May.


Christian Dick, Team Principal, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, said:

 

“That was another weekend where I would say we came away ill-recompensed for the pace and performance we showed. Andrew produced a stellar drive to really maximise the benefit of his soft tyres in race one and was unfortunate to be penalised for the slightest of contact, but he charged through the order again in race three to bag himself a very solid clutch of points. 

 

“Due to its short, sharp nature, the Indy layout always tends to throw up some kind of drama and both of our drivers paid the price for that in race two through no fault of their own, with contact from behind causing damage that scuppered their chances.

 

“Still, looking at the bigger picture, we left Brands Hatch with a lot of encouragement and signs that we are continuing to move in the right direction. I’m confident it won’t be long before we begin to reap the rewards.”


Andrew Watson, Driver, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, said:

 

“In general, I feel we took a good step forward at Brands Hatch. Qualifying was predictably tight, but the team did a great job and seventh place put us in the mix for race day. With the soft tyres on and full hybrid, we knew we were going to go forward in race one. There was a bit of fighting at the start, which let Josh [Cook] and Ash [Sutton] get away slightly and I couldn’t quite catch up to them, but I was happy with the points. I think the penalty was tough, but it is what it is.

 

“Race two was just a demolition derby, which culminated in me receiving the mechanical warning flag after contact from behind dislodged the rear bumper, but the team put in a fantastic effort to repair the car for race three and it was so important to go out and reward everybody with a really positive performance and result. 

 

“That was one of my best races so far in the championship, I would say. The Toyota felt brilliant and we were able to slice our way through the field. It was still only my second weekend in the car but to make that much progress on the medium tyres proves we’re getting the Corolla into the right window now, and over the upcoming events, we’re only going to get stronger...”


Images: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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