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Watson content with Imola silver after going close to World GT win

 

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Andrew Watson

Andrew Watson

Andrew Watson

It was back to real racing for Andrew Watson after the coronavirus lockdown and he was back on the podium, too.

The Tyrone driver, who proved a virtual star in simulator races during the past four months, relished his return to track with the Garage 59 Aston Martin team in the opening round of the GT World Challenge at Imola, where he claimed second place in the Silver category.

Sharing a GT3 Vantage with new partner Valentin Hasse Clot, Watson qualified second fastest for the three hour race and put in a strong double stint to climb into the top 10 and lead the silver class.

They looked to be heading for the win until the Aston Martin was punted into spin but Hasse Clot, who won the GT4 race on Saturday, fought back to reclaim second and bring the car home in 15th place overall behind the winning Lamborghini of Patrick Kujala, Alex McDowall and Frederik Schandorff.

"What an amazing start to the season! We should have had the win but great drive from Val to get us back to P2," tweeted a happy Watson.

Meanwhile, Craig Breen had to settle for fourth place as the European Rally Championship kicked off in Italy.

The Rally di Roma proved a tough opener and brought disappointment for Callum Devine, who was forced to retire his Hyundai after three stages with engine failure, and William Creighton, his Ford Fiesta sidelined with an electrical glitch.

But Breen, who is contesting the series in a development programme for tyre manufacturer MRF, hung in to finish just off the podium in his Hyundai.

Alexei Lukyanuk dominated the rally in his Citroen to finish ahead of the Giandomenica Basso's Volkswagen. Teenager Oliver Solberg, partnered by Ulster co-drive Aaron Johnston, was third in another VW Polo.

Racing resumed at Kirkistown, where Gerard O'Connell scored back-to-back wins in his Ford Escort in the saloon/GT races. The two Formula Ford rounds were won by David Parks in his Ray and David McCullough in his Van Diemen.

Belfast Telegraph