Ulster whizzkid Andrew Watson relishes the challenge of 24-hour Spa bid
Andrew Watson returns to one of his favourite circuits this weekend, but this time for his first 24-hour race. The long and undulating track at Spa in the Ardennes region of Belgium has always been a place Watson loves and now he gets the chance to experience it over a whole weekend in the marathon round of the Blancpain European Endurance series.
A member of the McLaren Young Driver Academy, 21-year-old Watson, from Donaghmore, shares a GT3 McLaren 650S with Alex Fontana and Struan Moore as part of a three-car challenge mounted by satellite team Garage 59. The sister car of Rob Bell, Shane van Gisbergen and Come Ledogar won the previous round at Paul Ricard in France.
A third McLaren has been added for Spa, driven by Bruno Senna, Duncan Tappy and Pipo Derani.
A race winner last season, Watson has had less success so far this season although he continues to be highly regarded at McLaren and has been selected for prestigious races outside the European series, including the Bathurst 1000 in Australia.
But he is looking forward to returning to Spa. He said: "It is arguably the most famous track in the world and a real challenge. I raced there twice last year and loved it. I hope to put that experience to good use this time."
He wasn't in the McLaren team for the 24-hour race last season but he travelled out to observe how the drivers coped.
Racing against him will be experienced fellow Ulsterman Steven Kane, who leads the M-Sport Bentley team. He was a contender for victory last year until team-mate Guy Smith crashed.
Kane is again teamed with Smith and Vincent Abril for the race, which starts on Saturday.