JST winner Watson joins TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK
Standout BTCC rookie switches to Toyota Corolla for sophomore campaign
Andrew Watson – one of the standout stars of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – has joined TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK for his sophomore season in the country’s premier motor racing series.
Watson arrived in the BTCC last year off the back of a successful career in international sportscar competition – including stints in the FIA World Endurance Championship, British GT Championship, Blancpain GT Series and a brace of top six finishes in-class in the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours.
He might have been making his debut in both touring cars and front wheel-drive machinery, but the former Aston Martin Racing ‘Junior’ wasted no time at all in making his mark. Showcasing his versatile skillset – not to mention his scintillating raw speed – Watson qualified an excellent ninth for the curtain-raising contest at Donington Park in the high-calibre, 27-strong field, going on to convert that into a fourth-place finish, a whisker shy of a sensational podium first time out.
Possessing a particularly deft touch in inclement conditions, he proceeded to reach the rostrum twice later in the season – at Knockhill and Silverstone – and tallied 15 points-scoring finishes in total from 30 starts.
A member of the MBP talent management stable – founded by former Formula 1 driver, Mark Blundell – the 29-year-old Northern Irishman complemented that impressive set of results with a trio of victories in the Independents’ Championship, in which he wound up fourth overall. He simultaneously achieved no fewer than ten wins in the Jack Sears Trophy – open to drivers without a podium to their name prior to the beginning of the campaign – to clinch that particular crown.
In his efforts to build upon that promising start, Watson has now joined forces with the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK manufacturer outfit – run by Northwich, Cheshire-based Speedworks Motorsport – to pilot one of its pair of potent Toyota Corolla GR Sport hatchbacks in 2024.
The team’s second driver will be announced in the coming weeks. Racing will get underway at Donington Park on 27/28 April – home soil for the British-built Corolla, whose road-going cousins are produced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK (TMUK) just up the road in Burnaston. All of the action season-long will be broadcast live and in high-definition on ITV channels.
Andrew Watson, Driver, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, said:
“I’m extremely excited to be joining TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK and Speedworks Motorsport for the 2024 season. They are proven winners in the BTCC with a fantastic track record – and I’m hoping to add to that tally! With a year under my belt, I can go into the season properly acclimatised to the championship and hit the ground running.
“To be associated with one of the world’s leading manufacturers is an amazing opportunity for me, and I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at Speedworks Motorsport, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK and MBP for all of their support. Having met the team and explored the facilities, there’s no doubt that this is one of the most professional organisations I have worked with, and that fills me with great confidence that we can achieve something special together this year!”
Christian Dick, Team Principal, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, said:
“It’s a real coup to attract Andrew to the team for 2024. Although he was by no means a rookie in the wider motorsport sense when he joined the BTCC last year, he was very new to both front wheel-drive and the unique style of racing in the series – but right from the start, you would have been hard-pressed to tell, so impressive were his performance, pace and racecraft.
“We also saw that the skills he acquired earlier in his career enable him to adapt very quickly to any given situation – a key attribute in the unpredictable world of the BTCC. He is an extremely accomplished racer and clearly a very special talent who looks destined for great things in the championship. We can’t wait to get going!”
Mark Blundell, CEO, MBP, said:
“Andrew had an extremely promising debut season in the BTCC, winning the Jack Sears Trophy and showing that he has the talent to consistently fight at the front of the grid – despite it being his rookie campaign. Now moving to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK and Speedworks Motorsport, he has a fantastic platform to kick on and achieve even more in the championship!”