Garage 59 earn themselves a Class Podium at Spa 24

Sunday, October 25, 2020


Heartfelt congratulations to the Garage 59 Aston Martin Racing team for coming through all of what the 2020 Total Spa 24 Hours could throw at them this week to come away with a worthy Pro-Am Class podium for the #188 AMR Vantage GT3 for their efforts.

In a year that will never be forgotten for all the wrong reasons, the actual race proved itself to one of the more exciting ones, full of incident, constantly changing weather conditions but fortunately one that had no repeat of the mass pile ups (especially on race restarts) that blighted previous years.

Whilst the Pro-Am side of the garage that featured full season GT World Challenge Europe drivers Alex West, Chris Goodwin, Jonny Adam as well as a rather useful 4th man in Belgium AMR Factory driver Maxime Martin, they will leave the circuit with wide smiles of their faces having scored both a Class third position at the end of the race but also enough points throughout the race to go into the final race of the season at Paul Ricard, France in joint lead with the #93 Sky Tempesta Racing Ferrari.

The final 1000kms of Paul Ricard will then decide just who will raise the Series Championship prize in the early evening of Sunday 15th November.

Whilst the #188 finally succeeded at Spa, the sister #159 Silver Cup entry of Andrew Watson, Valentin Hasse-Clot, James Pull and 4th man Roman de Angelis would unfortunately get no further than the early hours of Sunday morning. Having suffered a unseen collision with an Am car during the night (an incident that Race Control would ultimate apportion blame onto the Aston Martin for) what has been described as ‘technical issues’ came back to haunt the #159 once it returned to the track after its initial repairs and despite the best of efforts from the team, the #159 would be retired just before the halfway mark.

Despite running towards the top of the Silver Cup grid and scoring some vital championship points at the six hour mark, their untimely retirement from the event has dropped both Watson and Hasse-Clot down to P3 in the Silver Cup Championship – still only seventeen points back but considering the calibre and quality of those ahead, Paul Ricard would need to be their best performance to date as well as having a large serving of fortune to go their way, so in GT3 racing terms – it’s not over yet!!!

For team co-owner Alex West, the Spa 24 was an event that had until now been cruel to them and his desire going into the week was to simple - complete the event without major incident. For him and fellow team owner Chris Goodwin, it will probably be the case of needing new race suits for France as both endured significant incident in the rain that arrived during the early hours of Sunday morning and continued (sometime very heavily) until the end of the race some 5-6 hours later. For Goodwin at least, that would be seen by all in the rain soaked dawn of Sunday and would involve a spin for him coming out of Eau-Rouge and up into Raidillon, in front of a chasing pack that included the then leading Silver Cup Lamborghini. Fortunately for the blue and while Aston, he was able to recompose himself, correct his trajectory and continue into the dense spray along the Kemmel Straight whilst two other cars (including the Barwell Lamborghini) were sadly eliminated from the race with non-repairable accident damage. 

Whilst the event itself was very different to previous years by not being at its usual calendar date in July and sadly without any fans in attendance, the whole spectacle was not lost and in some ways the change in date (with the change in seasonal conditions that that presents) in our opinion at least only served to enhance the showcase event. It can rain very hard at Spa in July at the end of the day!!

The biggest questions for Paul Ricard and the Garage 59 team will be driver line ups with the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup finale sadly lashing with the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Bahrain as that sadly takes away both Jonny Adam in the #188 and Andrew Watson in the #159 cars with their TF Sport and Gulf Racing GTE commitments in the desert.

The #159 could quite easily run with just Valentin Hasse-Clot and James Pull behind the wheel just like VHC and Watson did at the opening round of the season at Imola. For the #188 Pro-Am car, they will need another Pro driver unless they go for something bold and brave like skipping the Scotsman’s part of Qualifying, starting from the back and hope that he gets back from Bahrain in time!! Who knows but there is always something far simpler, like a replacement driver!!

Photo credits – Spa 24 / Garage 59
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