Mitchell storms to Spa24H podium 01 | 08 | 2021

    SCOTS ENDURANCE RACER and British GT champ, Sandy Mitchell, delivered a masterclass in torrential rain to clinch a hard-earned podium in the gruelling Spa 24-Hours. The result maintained his run of top-three finishes in the race. (Related: Mitchell bids for Spa24H hat-trick of wins)

    Contesting the ‘Blue Riband’ round of the GT World Challenge Europe (GTWCE), the 21-year-old from Forfar steered his No77 Lamborghini Huracan Evo GT3 — prepared by Barwell Motorsport — to a dramatic third place in the ultra-competitive Pro-Am class.

    For Mitchell, partnered by Russian ace Leo Machitski, and Portuguese duo Miguel Ramos and Henrique Chaves, it was his fourth Spa24H podium in succession. The Scot won his class in 2019 and 2020, and was second on his debut in 2018. (Related: Mitchell fifth-fastest in Spa24H qualifying)

    But this year’s Spa 24-Hours, held at Belgium’s iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit and considered to be the biggest GT3 race in the world, came down to a 27-minute sprint in treacherous conditions after a torrential cloudburst just 50 minutes from the end of the race.


    “Those were some of the most difficult conditions I’ve ever raced in,” Mitchell, a Lamborghini factory driver, in addition to being a member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club’s elite SuperStars programme, said afterwards. “At times it was a major achievement simply to keep the car on the road.” (Related: Mitchell fastest at Donington British GT)

    A full course yellow period early in race race, followed by the appearance of the safety car dealt Mitchell’s hopes a blow. The #77 car’s position on-track when the safety car took up the race leader meant they found themselves a lap down.


    But having started from fourth on the grid in Pro-Am, and 40th overall on the 58-car grid, the Scot and his three team-mates then delivered consistent pace throughout the remainder of the race and fought their way back to fourth in class.

    With 50 minutes of the race remaining, Machitski pitted to hand the car over to Mitchell. With the threatening skies promising to deliver a deluge, the Scot and the Barwell team opted to fit full wet tyres even before the rain started. Within seconds of rejoining the circuit, the skies opened.

    “It was the perfect call at exactly the right time,” Mitchell, personally backed by Huntly-based Black Bull Scotch Whisky, Tunnocks and Thorntons Solicitors, said.


    When the #93 Ferrari was forced to pit again from P3 in Pro-Am for wet tyres, the Scot was elevated to third. But as the conditions became almost undrivable, with a number of cars on slick tyres aquaplaning off-track, the race went to another full course yellow. (Related: Scot Sandy Mitchell wins British GT Championship)

    The inevitable appearance of the safety car then bunched the field up before, with just 27-minutes remaining, it departed leaving the cars to race to the finish.


    “Those last 27 minutes were tough; really tough,” Mitchell, who eventually brought the #77 home third in Pro-Am and 18th overall, and second Lamborghini, admitted. “At times it was almost impossible to see the track in front of me because of the spray being thrown up by the other cars.

    “And there was so much water on the circuit that at one stage I had to instantly correct a massive slide as the car aquaplaned on the approach to the super fast Eau Rouge corner.


    “It’s a fantastic result for everyone in the Barwell team to finish on the podium again at the Spa 24-Hours, and especially in these conditions. Not only did we have torrential rain at the end, but we had it early in the race too. (Related: Mitchell bags maximum British GT points)

    “I’ve got to thank Leo, Miguel and Henrique for their efforts over the weekend. They all did a great job in maintaining the pace in really demanding conditions. And as always, the Barwell crew did a fantastic job preparing the car and at all the pitstops.


    “I’ve competed in the Spa24H four times now, and each time I’ve finished on the podium in my class. To have been able to maintain that record this weekend means a huge a mount to me.”

    And Mitchell’s fourth successive podium at the Spa24H was celebrated by Euan Shand, chairman of Black Bull’s parent company, Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky.


    “What another fantastic performance at the Spa 24-Hours by Sandy and everyone in the Barwell Motorsport team,” Shand said.

    “Conditions at the end were atrocious, but Sandy delivered another great drive to ensure we finished on the podium for the fourth time in a row. Congratulations to him and the whole team.”


    Related: Mitchell named Lamborghini factory driver

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on Instagram and Twitter

    Jim McGill

User Comments

Login or register to post comments.