Alexander West, Chris Harris and Chris Goodwin took a commanding AM class win in last night’s Paul Ricard 1000km race, sealing the first victory of the year for Garage 59. The Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup event came to a heart-breaking end due to an engine issue for the crew of the #59 Aston Martin, which was all the more bruising after all those hours spent rebuilding the car after Silverstone.
The #188 crew started as they meant to go on by grabbing the AM class pole position during Saturday morning’s qualifying session and from that point on they didn’t look back. Harris was at the wheel for the start and a smooth run for him was followed by a smooth run for West and another for Goodwin, all three drivers keeping it clean and putting in strong times, lap after lap.
“It was, as expected, a long tough race with plenty of incidents and hard on the machinery,” said Goodwin. “The #188 car was in the thick of it from the start but great double stints from Chris and Alex, plus superb strategy around the various Full Course Yellows and Safety Cars meant that I could circulate almost two laps ahead of our competition, showing pace when I wanted but steering clear of potential risk when I needed. It was a great result for #188. The car now needs a great deal of TLC and preparation before the main event at Spa next month but this race was a great warm up.”
Starting the race from seventh position, Jonny Adam made a great getaway and was soon up to fourth place before having to concede a position, but before the first pit stops he was up to third place. This set the tone for the #59 Aston Martin as it fought hard at the front throughout Adam’s run and then Andrew Watson jumped in to continue the fight. Watson was kept very busy, attacking and being attacked but ultimately his efforts were in vain when an engine problem reared its head and he had to retire whilst running in second place.
“I’m gutted we had to retire,” said Watson. “Our strategy was really working well and we were in the fight for second place. It was shaping up to be a great battle and the car felt great. Then we developed a misfire which steadily got worse and we eventually had to stop. The team did an amazing job and worked some long hours after Silverstone to put us back on the grid and it was great to be running up the front for them!”
The next race for the Garage 59 team is the big one: the Total 24 Hours of Spa, which takes place on 27-28 July.