As the clock was ticking round to the half way mark for the 24 Hours Spa in Belgium, the Gulf Racing UK team were quietly enjoying the sight of both their McLaren MP4-12C GT3 cars in the top 20. Cheshire’s Andy Meyrick was teamed with McLaren GT factory driver Rob Bell and team co-owner
Mike Wainwright in the No.9 car and they were holding 17th position after some strong performances, particularly by Bell and Meyrick in appalling weather and track conditions.
However, within the 12th hour, the extreme darkness around the challenging, high speed 7.4km circuit, plus the rain-soaked astro turf and grass sections alongside the track, appeared to catch out Mike Wainwright. A small error saw a wheel placed off the tarmac and, after six hours of torrential rain, the wet surfaces were unforgiving and equal to a skating rink. The Gulf Racing UK car was propelled into the barriers and subsequent retirement from the race.
The trio of drivers had already overcome a considerable hurdle in the race as it had started in 51st position on the starting grid of 66 cars. Bell drove an outstanding double stint from the start to make up an incredible 40 places, and his impressive work was continued by former Aston Martin Racing factory driver Andy in treacherous track conditions. Andy drove two excellent stints (a triple and a double) which were both consistent in pace and performance and, like his team mates, he was obviously enormously disappointed not to have been able to see the 24-hour race through to its end.
“The Gulf Racing team put a massive amount of work into preparing the cars for the 24-hours,” said Andy,” and our McLaren MP4-12C GT3 was running like clockwork. The strategy was good so I reckon we could easily have been on for a top ten finish or higher.
“It was obviously tricky out on track. My last stint was easiest as the car felt better then, even though we were on wet tyres on a completely dry track, than earlier when the tyres were going off. It was like driving a rally car, with the back end oversteering everywhere.
“After that it was just a question of trying to keep it on track. You can’t read the weather too much at Spa as you never know what it’s going to do from one minute to the next, or from one side of the track to the other, and you just have to play it all by ear. A Porsche went off in front of me, aquaplaned off in a straight line, it was very, very wet at times.”
Although this racing experience is, for now, over, news of a new racing programme for Andy will be coming very soon!