Carlisle racing driver Alex MacDowall suffered disappointment on the biggest GT3 race of the season.

Barwell Motorsport’s MacDowall, along with Sandy Mitchell, Sam De Haan and Ahmad Al Harthy, experienced a frustrating retirement from the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.

They had to pull out in the early hours of Sunday morning because of an unidentified mechanical issue.

Things had started well for the No.77 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 after the quartet combined to deliver the Gold Cup class pole position in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps.

Little more than half an hour into the twice-round-the-clock contest, though, a puncture derailed the squad’s challenge for a podium finish in round three of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup – although Mitchell did make it back to the pits.

Carlisle’s MacDowall got behind the wheel for his first stint, the team altering its planned schedule of driver changes in the hope it would prove beneficial later in the race, and he delivered a strong stint trying to recover as much time and ground as possible.

More incident then hit the team on Saturday evening when one of the Mercedes-AMG entries tagged De Haan and pitched him into a spin.

He was able to continue, and around midnight Mitchell was back into sixth in Gold and MacDowall then produced a great stint to move up into fourth in class – before another puncture.

It was just as the sunrise appeared over the Ardennes and Al Harthy was embarking on his first morning stint when a mechanical issue with the engine resulted in retirement from the race.

MacDowall said: "“We were just unfortunate, nothing we could do about the punctures or the engine problem which meant we retired – and we still don’t know why the engine failed.

“It was a crazy race, lots of punctures and people just bashing into each other – it shouldn’t be like that in an endurance race, especially a 24 hour race.

“We definitely had the line-up to get a podium. I don’t know about the win as it’s not just about pace and performance at Spa.

"You need the luck, timing, you need the safety cars to go your way, the strategy...there is so much that has to work in your favour.

"It’s a real shame as we had a good opportunity to get a strong result.”

MacDowall is now looking ahead to the fourth round of the campaign where he and Barwell hope to put their misfortune behind them.

“It’s been a bit of a messy season for us unfortunately and we don’t know who will join me and Sandy for the next round as the third driver, but hopefully we can have a strong run and finally get the sort of result we deserve from the pace we’ve shown”, he added.

Round four of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup season will take place over the weekend of September 3-4 at the Hockenheimring in Germany.