The Garage 59 AM line-up of Alexander West, Chris Harris and Chris Goodwin finished second in class at the final round of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in Barcelona on Sunday.
This result seals the runner-up spot in the championship for West and Goodwin, with Harris taking fourth place after missing the Monza round. Second place in Spain also means that the #188 crew finish the season with a fantastic 80% podium strike rate.
The three-hour season finale was an incident-packed race and it was perhaps the Safety Car driver who had the lion’s share of driving flat out! Both Garage 59 Aston Martins made a good start; Chris Harris moving up to second in class and Jonny Adam making great gains in the PRO class. The Safety Car made its first appearance at the end of Lap 1 and it was another 45 minutes before racing resumed.
Both Adam and Harris got away well at the re-start before pitting at the end of their stints to hand the #59 over to Andrew Watson and the #188 to Alexander West. The middle section of the race was peppered with short Safety Car periods due to numerous incidents and it looked like the Garage 59 Vantages would make it through until Watson was T-boned at the hairpin, which signalled the end of the race for #59.
West pitted from third in class in the #188 to hand over to Goodwin after a strong run. The British driver then had to battle his way through to the chequered flag.
“We survived today,” said Goodwin. “It was a chaotic race with a lot of incidents but after Chris Harris’ strong opening stint, Alex consolidated really well and left me with the job of preserving our position. However the opportunity came to move up the order and I managed to take the lead very briefly but was hit and ran wide losing the position almost as soon as I had grabbed it.
“From there it was a case of accepting second place as the best we could do and focus on avoiding trouble and getting the Vantage across the line. I’m very happy to have had such a good run of podiums in Garage 59’s first season with Aston Martin. We have one more race to go in South Africa and then we need to focus on developing the Vantage further from what has been a strong base for such a new car.”
The 2019 season started well for the #59 crew who took a very strong top 10 finish at the season-opening race at Monza in Italy. Since then they have suffered a string of DNFs, two through non-fault accidents and two for technical issues.
“Of course it’s a shame to end the season like this,” said Watson after the Barcelona race. “The Audi was actually a few cars behind me and he braked so late that he came out of nowhere and T-boned me into the hairpin. We really wanted to give the team something positive to end the season on but again, it was out of our hands. The thing about having a disappointing season like this though is that it makes you want success even more so we will stay positive!”
The Blancpain season may be over but there is one more race to go for Garage 59 in 2019: the Kyalami 9 Hour, which takes place in late November.