A masterclass in the Belgian rain kept Angus endurance racer Sandy Mitchell’s love affair with the world’s toughest GT3 race on song.
The Spa 24 Hours blue riband round of the GT World Challenge Europe never fails to deliver, and the 2021 event was no different for a packed field and reigning British GT champ Mitchell in the Barwell Motorsport-prepared Lamborghini Huracan Evo GT3.
He led the Pro-Am team of Russian ace Leo Machitski and Portuguese duo Miguel Ramos and Henrique Chaves to a hard fought third place, maintaining a remarkable run of 24 Hour success around the Belgian F1 circuit.
In four successive Spa 24s, 21-year-old Forfar ace Mitchell has never been off the podium.
This year’s event in the Ardennes came down to a 27-minute sprint in treacherous conditions after a torrential cloudburst just 50 minutes from the end of the race.
Lamborghini factory driver Mitchell said: “Those were some of the most difficult conditions I’ve ever raced in.
“At times it was a major achievement simply to keep the car on the road.”
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 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.
Threatening skies promised to deliver a deluge and the Barwell team’s strategy call to fit full wet tyres even before the rain started was an ace. Within seconds of rejoining the circuit, the skies opened.
“It was the perfect call at exactly the right time,” said the British Racing Drivers’ Club SuperStars scheme driver Mitchell.
As conditions became almost undriveable, a safety car period bunched up the field before the thrash to the line after a twice-round-the-clock race of high attrition,
The Angus star said: “Those last 27 minutes were tough, really tough.
“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.
“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.
“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 amount to me.”