Angus endurance racer Sandy Mitchell mastered treacherous track conditions to claim back-to-back class wins in the gruelling Spa 24 Hours.
The Forfar 20-year-old was a star of the field as the world’s best GT3 racers battled it out in the blue riband of the GT World Challenge Europe event, adding the Pro-Am category crown to the Silver Cup triumph he secured in 2019.
And the Pro-Am podium included Courier country friend and rival Jonny Adam after Mitchell saw off the challenge of the Aston Martin factory star and his Garage 59 team who finished in third place.
Mitchell spent more than ten hours behind the wheel of the No77 Vimetco Extrusion/Asterus Lamborghini Huracan Evo GT3 to spearhead the dazzling victory in the ultra-competitive category, finishing an impressive 15th overall of the 56 starters.
Partnered by father and son Rob and Ricky Collard, plus Russian ace Leo Machitski, the Lamborghini Squadra Corse GT3 Junior Program driver and his team-mates completed 521 laps of the daunting Spa-Francorchamps circuit, home of the F1 Belgian Grand Prix.
Starting fourth on the grid in Pro-Am and 41st overall in the Barwell Motorsport-prepared car, teammate Rob Collard endured early drama with a first lap puncture after being clipped by another car.
Black Bull Whisky-backed driver Mitchell took over after two hours and mastered the treacherous conditions, elevating the car into the class lead.
“Throughout the race our Barwell Motorsport team did a really good job on strategy and got us back into the mix after the first-lap puncture. When we got to the business end of the race, we were in the ideal position to be fighting at the front,” he said.
Through an extended 12 hours of darkness, due to the race being moved from July to late October, the foursome battled to maintain their lead position and with just under two hours remaining, Mitchell took over the car from Machitski with a lead of around 1min 48 secs to the second-placed car in the class.
As conditions deteriorated further, with some of the heaviest rain of the 24-hours, the young Scot maintained his composure, pace and focus to bring the car home more than a lap ahead of its closest rivals.
“It feels amazing to have been able to get another Spa24H win with these guys and the Barwell crew,” he said.
“Everyone did their jobs. Leo was excellent on Sunday morning when it mattered, and Rob did a huge amount of driving in mixed conditions through the night – this was his first Spa24H.
“Then Ricky and I managed to set some really good pace, especially in the morning, which catapulted us back into the mix again.”
The British Racing Drivers’ Club SuperStars scheme racer added: “Whereas last year in the Silver Cup we were always in the lead battle with the top two cars, this year we all had to dig deep to wrestle ourselves back into contention.
“Everyone in the team kept believing, and the guys at Barwell definitely made some phenomenal calls on strategy. We always knew we could fight back to win, and to finally cross the line and seal victory in another class was brilliant.
“The result is arguably more impressive than last year,” he said of the performance which saw them finish as the top Lamborghini in the field.
Teammate Machitski, a Spa24H Am Cup winner with Barwell in 2018 and ’19, had special praise for the young star.
“I want to stay a special thank you to Sandy,” the Russian smiled. “We call him the baby-faced assassin for a reason. Every time he was in the car, he drove it like he stole it. He never put a foot wrong.”
Mitchell returns to action in on November 7/8 when he tackles the season finale in the British GT Championship, knowing a win in the three-hour Silverstone showdown will see he and team-mate Rob Collard crowned champions.
Four-time British GT Champion Adam saw hopes of victory slip after a false puncture alarm and a flurry of late incidents thwart the challenge of the 35-year-old Fifer and teammates Maxime Martin, Chris Goodwin and Alexander West.
“We’re happy to finish on the podium. Those were some of the trickiest conditions I’ve ever raced in. Kudos to my teammates for some great driving and everyone at Garage 59 for all their hard work throughout the week,” said the double Le Mans 24 Hours class winner.
The event was, however, one to forget for Dundee 20-year-old Finlay Hutchison, whose Audi suffered a puncture and gearbox damage after contact on just the second lap, forcing a long spell in the pits and evntually ending the Attempto Racing outfit’s Silver Cup challenge after the car was retired.