The McLaren organisation has opened yet another door for rising Ulster racing star Andrew Watson.
The 20-year-old Trinity College student from Donaghmore is to take part in the southern hemisphere’s most iconic race, the 12 Hour Bathurst marathon at Mount Panorama in Australia in February.
Watson is part of McLaren’s Young Driver scheme and was plucked from the Ginetta Supercup series to compete in the 2015 British GT championship, sharing a McLaren 650 GT3 with Scot Ross Wylie. But his impressive performances have seen him singled out for opportunities to race in Europe and beyond.
He won at Barcelona in the final round of the International GT Open championship, helping team-mate Alvaro Parente claim the overall title, and earlier this month he was drafted into the Chinese-backed FFF Racing squad for the Sepang 12-Hour race in Malaysia, finishing fourth overall and winning the Pro-Am Cup.
Now he will start 2016 at the daunting Mount Panorama road circuit in Australia where he will be part of a three-car team entered by Tekno Autosport and backed by the McLaren factory.
Watson will share one of the new 650S GTs with works driver Rob Bell and Australian V8 Supercup race winner Will Davidson. The squad also includes Parente, New Zealander Shane Van Gisbergen and Tekno team owner Jonathan Webb plus and Australia trio.
Before the announcement was made public, Watson tweeted to his Twitter followers: “Well I just got the biggest news of my life with regards to racing! Share with you later.”
And then: “It is with slightly shaking fingers that I can share I will be racing in the @Bathurst12hour in 2016. So huge for me.”
Watson attributes his rapid rise to the McLaren connection. “Being part of their Young Driver programme has opened doors for me that I never thought possible. I can’t wait to drive at Mount Panorama.”
It is another new circuit for him but he will soon be learning all about it on the simulator – just as he did for the Sepang race - before heading to Australia.