Belfast Telegraph

Debutant Watson makes mark with podium finish

By Sammy Hamill

Andrew Watson had a Spa weekend to remember. Making his debut in the International GT Open series, the 20-year-old Donaghmore student set a pole position lap, ended up in the barriers at the Belgium circuit but also stood on the podium.

Watson, a member of McLaren's Young Driver squad in the British GT championship, had been promoted to partner factory driver Rob Bell in the two Spa rounds as support for the Teo Martin McLaren team's challenge for the GT Open title.

Bell set fastest lap in qualifying for race one but was relegated to second place for a pit infringement. However, he was soon followed by Watson who eclipsed his team-mate with a stunning fastest lap to claim position for race two.

Then, after Bell had taken the lead in race one, Watson took over and was still in front when he was caught out by a sudden downpour, the McLaren spinning into the barriers. But yesterday, in race two, Watson did a sterling job for the team, running in a strong third place before handing over to Bell who moved up to second and shepherded the leading McLaren of Alvaro Parente and Miguel Ramos over the finish line to increase their championship advantage.

Colin Turkington emerged from the Rockingham rounds of the British Touring Car Championship still in fourth place thanks largely to a fighting third place in the last of the three races.

The champion could only manage seventh in race one as Mat Jackson (Ford) won from the Honda of championship leader Gordon Sheddon (Honda). Sheddon went on to win race two with Turkington in eighth.

Race three turned out to be a scrap between Tom Ingrams (Toyota) and the two BMR Volkswagens of Jason Plato and Turkington. Plato eventually squeezed past Ingrams to take his 93rd career victory but Turkington finished in third.

Meanwhile, the Moffett brothers dominated the Lakeland Stages Rally, finishing first and second, Sam winning by 21 seconds in his WRC Ford Fiesta ahead of the Mitsubishi of Josh.

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