Ross Wylie returned home to Dumfries with heartfelt Christmas cheer and an end-of-year bonus after scoring a much-needed confidence inspiring fifth place in the Gulf 12 Hours endurance sports car race in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.
Wylie, who has suffered appalling fortune in the British GT Championship over the past two years since winning the 2014 BGT GT4 title, shared a Porsche Cayman GT4 with co-drivers Wayne Marrs and David Fairbrother for the first time.
The race split into two, six-hour segments with a break of two hours in the middle, marked a successful reunion for Wylie and Slidesports, a team Ross scored five podiums – including two wins – with in the 2013 Volkswagen Racing Cup. Ross, due to his licence grading, was only allowed to drive for a three-hour maximum period, and took the opening driving “stint” for both “segments”. He started the Porsche from fifth in the GTX class on the 24-car grid with Marrs and Fairbrother combining to finish the first three-hour part placed an excellent third.
Ross was again behind the wheel for the second start but was forced to pit with almost an hour gone with an electrical gremlin which ultimately cost 35mins for repairs as darkness closed in on the 3.451-mile Yas Marina.
Wylie, who only drove the Porsche for the first time a few days prior to the event, was back in the now fifth-placed Cayman with less than two hours remaining but was forced to pit with a misfire before Fairbrother brought it home to the chequered flag.
Wylie’s joy was more about the fact that he’d had more on-track driving time in this single event than in the entire BGT season that closed out in September. Ross has spent the last two years contesting the GT3 category in BGT, finishing an unrepresentative 15th (McLaren 650S) and 12th (Aston Martin V12 Vantage).
“We were a comfortable third but suffered an electrical issue but more pleasing was to finally get some miles under my belt, I thoroughly enjoyed myself,” said Wylie. “In fact I’d say that I clocked up more in Saturday’s race than the entire BGT this season. I’d been to watch events in Abu Dhabi previously, a world karting race plus the first-ever F1 Grand Prix in 2009.
“It’s a cool event, starting the race in daylight and finishing under floodlights at night. The competition was tough and the Porsche gave a lot of straight line speed away to the Aston Martin and Maserati. There was a chance I could get second place early on in the second phase of the race before the first encounter of an electrical problem which persisted a couple of times later in the race.
“The team did a great job to turn the Porsche around in just over 30mins after changing both catalytic converters and the exhaust manifold. All in all, a great event.”