Dublin-based Andrew Watson, who raced successfully with Douglas Motorsport in both the Ginetta Junior and Ginetta GT4 Supercup has been chosen by McLaren GT for its newly announced “Young Driver” programme.
It sees Watson, studying Economics at Trinity College Dublin, who embarks on only his fourth full season of car racing, continue his rise up the GT category motor racing ladder. Andrew, who celebrates his 20th birthday later this month (21 Jan), has been racing Ginetta sportscars with since 2011.
“To get this opportunity is fantastic – I’m just so excited to be given this amazing chance by McLaren GT,” confirmed Andrew who was announced as part of the exciting programme at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham today (10 January).
McLaren GT is the GT race car manufacturing arm of McLaren Group established to develop, build and support the GT racing and track derivatives of the 12C sports car, and the 650S GT3. Based in Woking, Surrey at the former home of McLaren Racing, the company is responsible for the design, development and production of the GT3 variants of the 12C and 650S, the 12C GT Can-Am Edition and the 12C GT Sprint.
Andrew and Ross Wylie (Scotland, 23) will work with McLaren GT and the existing trio of factory drivers of Rob Bell, Kevin Estre and Alvaro Parente to further enhance their skills and knowledge for a competitive career in GT racing.
The McLaren GT Young Driver Programme announcement follows a successful 2014 season, which was brought to a close with a successful competitive debut for the new 650S GT3 at the Gulf 12 Hours.
Co. Tyrone born Watson has been closely monitored by McLaren GT Managing Director Andrew Kirkaldy.
Kirkaldy commented: “It is great that we are in the position to offer Andrew and Ross an opportunity to become part of our team, and help give them a boost with their careers.
“The GT racing scene is as exciting now as I can ever remember, and there is a huge amount of talent on every grid week-in week-out, so it can be difficult for young drivers to get on the first rung of the ladder to show their true potential.
“This programme is designed to offer young drivers we feel have something special a chance to show what they can do behind the wheel of a GT car, and also work closely with our drivers, engineers and technical teams, giving them access to many years of race- and championship-winning experience at the highest levels.”
Andrew continued: “I’ve only been racing cars since 2010 but led the highly competitive Ginetta GT4 Supercup for most of last season before finally finishing fourth in the 26-race series.
“Nevertheless it was a brilliant year, winning five races and scoring multiple pole positions and fastest laps. But sometimes it takes a little luck to actually win a championship and that deserted me at times.
“It will certainly be a big step up in performance from the Ginetta sportscar and will be a steep learning curve but I’m up for the challenge. The GT3 category allows more aerodynamic aids while the engine is much more powerful than the cars I’ve previously raced.”
McLaren GT customer teams will race the new 650S GT3 in a number of championships around the world.
Watson recently visited the McLaren GT factory in Woking, Surrey: “I was very impressed by the facilities and the team that I’ll be working with.”
The specific championship along with which team Watson races with will be announced in the coming weeks.
“I am delighted for Andrew”, said Douglas Motorsport Team Principal Wayne Douglas. “We had success in both Ginetta Juniors and GT4 Supercup and all of the team wish him all the best in his exciting new move.”