Andrew Watson and his #159 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 teammate, Valentin Hasse-Clot, claimed a second-placed Silver Class podium finish at the opening GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup weekend of the season in Imola.
The Northern Irishman was chosen to spearhead the team's efforts throughout the weekend and was elected to take part in two of the three qualifying sessions. A superlative effort in the second session saw the 25-year-old post the eighth fastest time overall and, combined with times from the two other sessions, eventually meant the #159 would line up second in the Silver Class.
Andrew also started the race on Sunday afternoon and held firm in second place, maintaining a strong pace to keep the #159 in race contention and, following a superb pitstop from the team, was locked in a tight battle for the lead with the #15 Tech 1 Racing Lexus RCF GT3 at the halfway point of the race.
With one hour to go, Andrew handed the car back to Hasse-Clot after another rapid stint behind the wheel of Aston Martin Vantage GT3, allowing his teammate to assume the lead of the race as it entered its final phase.
However, with just half an hour to go Hasse-Clot was spun around at the Variante Alta chicane and the #159 dropped to third in class. With only a handful of laps remaining, he was able to recover to second place and secure the team a podium finish.
“It could’ve been our win today but it’s still brilliant to come away from the weekend with a podium finish,” Watson said. “It shows we’ve got the pace and that we’re competitive, and you can’t ask for much more than that. A huge amount of effort went into getting ready for this weekend; the car ran like a dream and the team did everything they could to get us this result so a huge thank you to them for all their hard work. The long wait was definitely worth it, bring on the next round in Germany!”
Andrew’s next outing in the GT World Challenge Europe series will be the six hour race at the Nürburgring on the weekend of September 5-6.
Images courtesy of Garage 59.