Andrew Watson secured his maiden overall BTCC podium in style with a fantastic display of driving ability and race craft at Knockhill Circuit to continue his mightily impressive rookie season and close the gap to just one point in his ongoing fight for Jack Sears Trophy honours.
Coming into the weekend with confidence, Andrew would set the tone for the weekend that was to follow with strong running in the changeable conditions of the two free practice sessions on Saturday morning, collecting two P6 finishes as the scene was set for an exciting qualifying session.
With the first times of Saturday afternoon's qualifying session being set in wet weather conditions, Andrew would once again find himself firmly amongst the front runners and inside the top-ten. However, a drying track would see Andrew experience the track for the first time in dry conditions, seeing him finish in P15 as those around him were able to improve their times.
Sunday morning would see the first of three ITV4-televised races get underway and Andrew would make steady progress before the heavens opened at Knockhill, prompting Watson to pit for wet-weather Goodyear tyres in an inspired decision.
Andrew benefited hugely from the gamble, rising steadily through the order as those risking a longer stint on slicks in the hope of clearer skies were eventually forced to concede and head for the pit lane with conditions worsening.
Andrew would again showcase his impressive wet weather driving ability, as seen at the season opener at Donington Park, to take the chequered flag in a fantastic fourth place. What started out as a class victory among the Independent runners then became an outright podium, with two cars ahead disqualified for failing post-race ride height checks.
Now promoted to second, the result marked Watson’s first career podium in the BTCC in only his rookie campaign, a brilliant achievement!
With the track rapidly drying, race two would see much clearer conditions for the Northern Irishman as he started in second on the grid. Andrew would battle valiantly with those around him, racing around Knockhill for the first time in the dry and held his own to claim a P9 finish to secure another valuable points haul in his ongoing Jack Sears campaign.
The final race of the day would see Andrew starting P9 after the reverse grid draw, and in typical Knockhill fashion, torrential rain fell moments before the start of race three, prompting an urgent tyre change for the entire field on the grid.
Andrew once again battled hard amongst the tightly-knit pack as the challenging track conditions saw another chaotic race take place, with a faulty windscreen wiper only adding to the mix, making visibility an even bigger challenge!
Andrew would narrowly miss out on the final points paying position to take P16 at the fall of the chequered flag on yet another bumper day of BTCC action!
Following the weekend's action, Andrew now jumps to P16 in the championship standings with 54 points, he also occupies P6 in the Independent Drivers' standings with 232 points and closes the gap in the Jack Sears Trophy to just 1 point behind the leader with 307 points respectively.
Up next for Andrew, is the BTCC's return to the Donington Park GP layout on the 26-27 August where he will look to continue with his impressive rookie season.
Reflecting on the weekend's action, Andrew said:
“This weekend at Knockhill has been a complete rollercoaster, but obviously the main news is my first podium in the BTCC. It was incredible to get that with a second-place finish, what a day!"
“Race three didn’t go our way, we had a problem with the wiper, which made it really hard to see in the spray."
“I just want to say a huge thank you to the team at CarStore Power Maxed Racing, especially my car crew for that massive result earlier. We’ve scored a lot of points, and in general, it was a great day in very tough conditions."
Imagery courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography