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Damage limitation drive salvages Imola points in Euro opener for Angus endurance star Mitchell

Sandy Mitchell in action at Imola. Supplied by McMedia.
Sandy Mitchell in action at Imola. Supplied by McMedia.

Angus ace Sandy Mitchell was forced into a damage limitation exercise in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Championship season opener at Imola.

But the 22-year-old produced a fightback drive in his Lamborghini Huracan to bag valuable points at the famous Italian circuit.

And Mitchell says they could be vital at the business end of what is already shaping up to be an ultra-competitive season.

Sandy Mitchell
Sandy Mitchell ready to start his Imola stint. Pic: McMedia.

Early drama

The Forfar driver looked on as team-mate Rob Collard was pitched into the gravel by a rival less than 40 minutes after the green flag dropped.

BTCC veteran Collard – who Mitchell won the British GT Championship with in 2020 – made a cracking start from the back of the grid to leap from 13th to sixth in the gold class.

Mechanical problems in qualifying left the Barwell Motorsport-prepared No. 77 car at the tail of the 52-car field for the start.

“Qualifying was tricky for us,” Mitchell admitted.

“But Rob delivered a fantastic first stint in the race.”

However, that ended when a rival Mercedes – subsequently given a drive-through penalty for the contact – spun Collard deep into the gravel.

“That split second essentially wrecked our race,” Mitchell.

“After that it was a case of damage limitation.”

Blistering pace

The car was eight laps down when it rejoined in the hands of Alex MacDowall, before Mitchell took over for the final hour.

And he reeled off a series of fastest laps for the team to salvage something from the weekend.

Sandy Mitchell
Mitchell is a Lamborghini factory driver. Pic: McMedia.

“It’s frustrating because we knew we had a quick car this weekend,” said the young Lamborghini factory driver.

“But it was important we got the car back on-track.

“And to battle back to finish ninth in class means we have scored a couple of championship points.

“They could be crucial at the end of the season.

On to France for next round

“I felt sorry for Rob because he was putting together a terrific first stint.

“We were confident of at least a top five finish, but the early impact put an end to that.

“The Barwell guys did a fantastic job getting the car back on-track, and our pitstops were quick and seamless.

“I know we’ll be right back on the pace at the next round at Paul Ricard in June.”

Before that, Mitchell returns to action for the opening round of the British GT Championship on Easter Monday at Oulton Park in Cheshire.

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