Despite showing strong pace and running within the top-five throughout the first half of the race, Andrew Watson and Gulf Racing’s showing at the European Le Mans Series’ 4 Hours of Portimão ended in retirement after the #86 Porsche 911 RSR sustained terminal damage through no fault of their own.
After utilising the two free practice sessions to acquaint themselves with the Portimão circuit, the team entered qualifying confident of securing a strong starting position for the race.
Andrew’s team mate, Ben Barker, took the reins of the Porsche for the qualifying session and lined the car up sixth on the grid in the LMGTE class.
Aiming to capitalise on their qualifying result, the team entered race day aiming for a top-five finish. Mike Wainwright took the start of the race and a solid stint throughout the first hour allowed the team to maintain sixth place.
With Andrew now at the wheel, the Northern Irishman battled his way through to fourth place in class and had brought the team into contention in the battle for fifth place.
Now with just under two hours of running remaining, Wainwright was back at the wheel and looking to maintain the team’s strong performance so far.
Keeping well clear of the passing #51 Ferrari, Wainwright left plenty of space but the 488 GT3 made a mistake on the exit of the corner and spun into the Porsche, severely damaging the 911 RSR’s right-rear corner. Despite making it back to the pits for repairs, the damage sustained was too severe for the car to continue.
“It’s a disappointing way to end the weekend,” Andrew said. “Our pace as a team was really strong and we were firmly in the battle for the top-five so to have it snatched away from us through no fault of our own is difficult to take. There are positives though, I only had seven laps worth of practice before the race so I was really pleased with how I performed in my stint, I got to grips with the track quite quickly and found a rhythm. As a team we can be pleased with the performance we showed even though we didn’t get the result to match it.”
Image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography.