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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Andrew Watson

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass with Northern Irish Aston Martin racer Andrew Watson…

Photo: Garage 59

Northern Irish racer Andrew Watson became a ‘factory junior’ for Aston Martin Racing last year following his switch from McLaren to Aston machinery with Garage 59.

But in addition to his Aston Martin GT3 programs in GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, Watson has also been racing a Porsche 911 RSR in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

In this week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass, the 25-year-old talks about his plans this year, how he’s passing the racing downtime, and his experience switching between two very different GT cars.

How firm are your Aston Martin racing plans for 2020?

“To be honest, it’s all up in the air now but it was heading that way for at least a few rounds of the calendar.

“I would love to be back racing in GT World Challenge Europe as it’s the most competitive GT3 championship in the world, so results there really mean a lot!

“I also love working with everyone at Garage 59 and Aston Martin Racing so that would be great. Let’s see how things unfold in the next couple of weeks.

“We learnt a lot with the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 last year and feel like we can get some more great results with the car in the future, building on our Bathurst 12 Hour class podium!

“Ideally I would love to do more of the IGTC powered by Pirelli rounds in the future as there are some amazing circuits and formats on the calendar.”

What’s it like switching between the Aston Martin and Porsche?

“Yes they are pretty different but it’s going well so far. After a few laps the muscle memory takes over and I try not to overthink it too much.

“They both have very different handling characteristics and you need to use different tricks and techniques to drive them quickly.

“I’ve been racing in GT3 for a while now so I feel comfortable very quickly when I sit back in the Aston.

“With the Porsche is still pretty new, and on a WEC weekend you have pretty limited practice and I’ve had to learn a lot of new circuits this year.

“I would actually say it’s harder to dial into the circuits than get used to the car again.”

How involved have you been getting in esports racing lately?

“It’s so frustrating! I got a new sim from my friend Niall Murray at Murray Motorsport for my apartment in London just before we were meant to go to Sebring.

“He got me a pretty sweet setup with a Sim Lab frame, Simucube motor, Cube Controls wheel and Heusinkveld pedals. So no excuses on the hardware front!

“Then lockdown happened and I came back to Northern Ireland, so I’ve been separated from her and it’s heartbreaking! When I go back to London eventually I’ll have some catching up to do!

“My mate Charlie Eastwood has also just set up his own esports company so he’s been keeping me in the loop with the behind the scenes drama!”

What else are you doing during lockdown to pass the racing downtime?

“I actually work for a food company full-time focusing on corporate sustainability, so I have a ‘day job’ and that’s been keeping me very busy.

“I’ve been doing lots of fitness aswell, including two half marathons. I also have a few conditioning programmes which I’m working through with a DIY home gym setup to make sure I’m ready to go when things get started again.

“I used to play the piano when I was younger and I’ve taken it back up. I’m trying to learn ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at the minute, which never would have happened without lockdown.”

What’s your long-term career ambition?

“To win or at least get a podium at some of the biggest sports car races, like Le Mans, Daytona and the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

“I’ve met some amazing people on my journey so far and had the best times of my life so It would be great to keep that going for as long as possible.

“It’s amazing to think how far I’ve come from racing quads when I was 6 years old, that makes me and my family proud and that means a lot!”

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