Watson thrilled to make Porsche switch and face pal Eastwood in endurance series
They are good pals, as well as rivals, and both are members of Aston Martin's Junior Driver programme, but now Charlie Eastwood and Andrew Watson are set to go head-to-head in the World Endurance Championship.
The two young Ulstermen already race against each other in the Blancpain European GT3 series for opposing Aston Martin teams, but this weekend Eastwood is being joined in the WEC by Watson, who has been signed to drive for the iconic Gulf Porsche team.
The 24-year-old, who hails from Donaghmore will continue to be part of the Aston Martin set-up, driving for the Garage 59 team in the European series, but he has been given permission to switch to Porsche as he steps up to World level.
"I'm grateful to Aston Martin Racing for letting me pursue this opportunity. Not many young drivers get this chance so soon and it says a lot about all the team at AMR for letting me step up to this level," said Watson, who will share a Porsche 911 RSR in the LMGTE category with Mike Wainwright and Ben Barker in the eight-round series, which begins at Silverstone this weekend.
"Racing in the WEC is honestly a dream come true for me. If you said that I would be on the grid even a few months ago, I would have never believed it.
"I'm still pinching myself at the fact that I'll be taking part in so many great races around the world with a team and a brand that is so iconic."
He will be in direct opposition to fellow countryman Eastwood, who begins his second WEC season with the TF Sport Aston Martin team alongside Salih Yoluc and Jonny Adam in the latest Vantage GTE.
They had four runners-up finishes last season, taking third in the series, and Eastwood is confident of getting the breakthrough victory.
"With four second places, it's a big goal for us to get that win, especially as we were so close so many times," said the 24-year-old former Porsche Carrera Cup champion from Belfast.
"Heading into our second season, we have all learned a great deal, so putting it all together we feel we'll hit the ground running compared to last year where it was an all-new experience.
"The driver line-up, team and new car are all very strong as a package, so we just need to piece it all together to get the results we deserve."