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Watson shows promise at Toyota’s home soil as BTCC blasts into life at Donington Park

In unpredictable and changeable weather, 29-year-old Watson excelled, with the reigning Jack Sears Trophy winner advancing to the ‘Quick Six’ showdown to secure a strong sixth position on the grid for the curtain-raising contest.

The next day dawned very wet indeed, causing a delayed start to proceedings and when the action did belatedly get underway, race one featured only six full-speed laps due to an extended safety car intervention to effect barrier repairs following an accident. 

Grappling with an imperfect set-up in the tricky conditions, throughout Race One, Watson ultimately finished tenth.

The distinctively-liveried Toyota Corolla GR Sport hatchbacks ran in tandem for the mid-part of race two on a now dry track. Despite struggling with braking performance, Watson clung on to finish 12th, putting both drivers in contention for the reversed grid pole position for the day’s finale.

For Race three, the Belfast native Watson made a bright start to climb to ninth but found himself roughed up at Redgate heading onto lap two, dropping him back down to 12th, which is where he would finish. The season continues at Brands Hatch’s short ‘Indy’ circuit on 11-12 May.

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


“Andrew did a stellar job in qualifying to progress to the ‘Quick Six’, which really underlined both his potential and that of the car, and while he had to deal with some braking and set-up issues on Sunday, he nonetheless kept his cool to bring home three solid points-scoring finishes. 


“The end results might not necessarily reflect it, but I have to say, that felt like our strongest start to a season for a few years, which is hugely encouraging – and something to really build upon over the upcoming rounds.”

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


“That was a solid first weekend, I would say. The car wasn’t perfect in free practice, but the sessions went pretty much according to plan and we made consistent steps in the right direction. The weather was a major variable all weekend, and getting heat into the tyres in the cool conditions was a big challenge for everybody, but qualifying was great.


“I really enjoyed the new format – I thought it was more exciting, and I hope the fans did too. I did a lot of work over the winter mentally and on my breathing, which really helped in that session. The team did a great job and worked perfectly in sync – everybody was really methodical and professional, which obviously made my life easier – and we had the right tyres on at the right time. The Toyota was very nimble and I felt like we maximised what we had in the ‘Quick Six’ shootout, which put us firmly in the mix. 


“My focus for race day was on moving forward again, but with the way the weather turned out, Sunday was all about survival and staying calm and collected, especially with it being only the first weekend of the season. 


“We didn’t quite get the balance of the car right, but at the end of the day, we scored points in all three races and we know there’s a lot more to come. There’s plenty of potential in the Corolla and I’m really looking forward to unleashing it.”


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