Stunning Spa Francorchamps served up shattering disappointment for Angus racer Sandy Mitchell after the teenage star looked firmly on course for British GT glory.
Letham’s Mitchell and Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse teammate Ciaran Haggerty were in imperious form on the spectacular Belgian circuit all weekend, dominating every session and starting from a second consecutive pole position in the latest bid for a debut win in the new McLaren 570S GT4.
But having built a commanding 23 second lead on lap 19 and before the driver changeover to Haggerty in the two-hour race, the pair’s hopes of victory evaporated after the car ground to a halt having run out of fuel.
To rub further salt into the wound, the Dundee High School 16-year-old – the youngest ever British GT racer – also clocked the fastest time for an amateur in the race with a lap of 2mins 34.552secs on the legendary Ardennes Forest circuit,.
”On my in-lap, the car coughed, spluttered and stopped. There wasn’t enough fuel in it to let me restart the engine,” said a dejected Mitchell.
The problem was later traced to a failure of the car’s fuel pump.
“Up until then, the car had been really quick,” he continued. “We know we had the pace.
“From the position I was in, all we needed to do was bring it home.
“We’d done all the hard work over the weekend, started from pole and established a commanding lead.”
“We were so close, but couldn’t quite get there – another niggly wee electrical problem has hit us hard.”
Spa also tested Courier Country’s other British GT star – reigning GT3 champion Jonny Adam, who is still clinging at the top of the standings in the defence of his title.
Adam and teammate Derek Johnstone battled to seventh after their TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage required a full front-end rebuilt following an off in practice when Johnston was pitched into the barriers after hitting oil dropped by another car on the fast approach to Les Combes.
— Jonny Adam (@JonnyAdam) July 8, 2016
Kirkcaldy’s Adam praised the work of the TF Sport mechanics who beat the clock to have the Aston ready for qualifying – winning the outfit the team of the weekend accolade – and left Spa with the championship lead narrowed to just 8.5 points ahead of the next round, the Snetterton 300 in early August.