ANDREW Watson has told Sunday Life Sport the time has arrived for his D’Station Racing team-mates to convert their raw speed in the 2021 World Endurance Championship (WEC) into top-three finishes.
The newly-fledged Aston Martin customer outfit are back in action once again next week, with Watson believing silverware is within their grasp at the 6 Hours of Monza — the third round of the competition. Watson, Satoshi Hoshino and Tomonobu Fujii began the season with a seventh-place finish in GTE Am at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps — and carried that early confidence into the 8 Hours of Portimao.
However, two hours into the race in Portugal, their Vantage was collected by the debuting Glickenhaus Racing hypercar, and with the damage to their car’s cooling system too severe, it had to be withdrawn.
“The last two races have been polar opposites,” said the County Tyrone driver.
“Round one went quite well for us and at round two, through no fault of our own, we got taken out. From my point of view, I didn’t get the chance to race at Portimao — I didn’t get to show my potential — so that was frustrating.
“At Monza the objective is to have a good, clean race with no mistakes.
“A podium would be a fantastic result for us. We have the speed — we have already demonstrated that — and the Aston should be well suited to the circuit because there are so many long straights and big braking zones.
“The team possesses everything it needs to do well this season — speed, consistency and reliability — we just need to piece it together. But if there’s one thing we do need, it’s some luck with our strategy.”
Despite their Portimao setback, Watson has said the early signs are giving him real cause for optimism, with a strong performance at Monza significant for a number of reasons, not least because the next race is the Le Mans 24 Hours — a shop window where drivers get the chance to really sell their wares.
“A podium would be a great result at Monza,” said the 26-year-old, who recently announced that he has agreed to help MB Motorsport develop its hybrid car for the 2022 British Touring Championship.
“That would set us up nicely for Le Mans, which is the race everyone in the pitlane has one eye on.
“I’m confident it can happen because the gap between us and the other guys is tiny. The team has taken a lot of encouragement from the speed of Satoshi and Tomonobu and I’m really enjoying driving the Aston — more than the Porsche, actually — because I have gone from a mid- to a front-engined car.
“At Monza I’ll be going flat out,” he added. “I don’t have too many opportunities to show myself this year due to the condensed calendar, so each time I get in the car I want to do my absolute maximum.”