Ginetta Junior Ireland front-runner Andrew Watson made an impressive debut in the UK Ginetta Junior Championship in the series' final rounds at Silverstone, the teenager taking a sixth place in the second race with HHC Motorsport. The Checkered Flag caught up with Andrew at Silverstone to discuss his year in Ireland and get his thoughts on his maiden UK weekend.
16 year old Watson raced in the competitive Ginetta Junior Ireland series during the year and had a strong season. The Donaghmore-based racer took a couple of race wins and a handful of other podiums on his way to fourth place in the championship standings.
Watson commented: “To be honest I hoped to be further up, but I had some unlucky things with the team, on the track and then a good bit of it was down to me as well, silly mistakes and inexperience. So I think fourth was a good result overall, but I was hoping to be up there a bit more.
“I took a lot of positives out of the season though and there was great racing all year, I think anybody you asked wouldn't disagree, it was some of the best racing around. It was nice to be at the front and getting a few wins and podiums, I really enjoyed it.”
The next step for Watson is England and the UK's Ginetta Junior Championship, the Irishman looking to follow in the footsteps of 2010 Ginetta Ireland champion Niall Murray, who has come over and enjoyed great success. Watson admits that he had never thought about racing in England until he started enjoying success in Ireland.
Watson explains: “To be honest I hadn't really thought about it much, I was doing my school work and my mum was quite pushy with that. But once I got into racing and saw that I could be up there around the front, England was always the next step. The land of opportunities as they say.
“I've been following the UK series quite closely and I suppose I didn't realise until I came over just how close it was, like hundredths and thousandths of a second. It was close in Ireland as well, but here there's ten people separated by tenths, so that's something to get used to.”
Watson headed over to England to make a one-off appearance in the final rounds of the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship at Silverstone, running with HHC Motorsport. The Irishman was immediately on the pace in Friday testing and overcame a tough qualifying session to produce two impressive race performances, especially the second race that saw him fight through to finish a great sixth.
Watson reflected: “I've had a fantastic weekend. We had pace during free practice and in Wednesday testing, so it was a bit of a disappointment to go out Saturday and qualify thirteenth, but we changed a few things on the car and it felt better for race one. I climbed up the field and finished eleventh, so I was happy enough and there was some great racing going on. I wanted a bit more in race two though and convinced myself I could do better.
“We changed the car a bit more and it felt great, I felt I could race with it, so I did and came out sixth, so I was delighted. HHC have been great too, any questions I had, nothing was too stupid. Definitely great for learning and a great set up, so I don't have any complaints with them, plus Charlie and Paddy were great team-mates too.”
Watson is now aiming to race in the Ginetta Junior Championship in 2012, though it may not be a full campaign due to Andrew having to sit his important school leaving certificate next year.