Sean Walkinshaw - FR BARC, RockinghamChipping Norton racer Sean Walkinshaw enjoyed a highly competitive conclusion to the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin at Rockingham on Saturday, 10th November, to close-out the four race championship ninth in the driver standings.

Posting his best race result of the hotly-contested Winter Series during the final round on Saturday afternoon, the 19-year-old MTECH Lite driver produced one of his finest performances of the year to brilliantly climb from 16th on the grid into the coveted top 10 in challenging, drying conditions.

Qualifying, which took place on a wet track due to overnight rain, proved a battle for Sean and resulted in eighth row starts for each of the weekend’s encounters – disappointing for the second year racer after a very encouraging run in pre-event testing.

Determined to make progress, Sean made a good start and delivered a great opening lap to climb into 12th position. Although pushed back to 16th by lap five, following a brief Safety Car period, the teenager was able to recover to 13th place by the finish, just a couple of seconds shy of the top 12.

With no additional rainfall during the day, the track dried throughout – albeit slowly – leading to debate over whether or not to gamble on slick tyres or play it safer and run with treaded Michelin rubber. Sean, like the vast majority of the grid, selected the second option and it paid dividends.

Putting together another sensational opening lap, the Oxfordshire driver carved his way into 11th place and set about challenging the more experienced Michael Epps for 10th on lap three at Deene Hairpin but had to tuck back in.

Slipping behind team-mate Joe Ghanem on lap four, following the slightest of errors, Sean had to recover the lost ground but did so rapidly and after pressuring the Lebanese racer he got back ahead on the seventh tour into 11th position.

Lapping much faster than Epps ahead, Sean reeled his rival in and broke into the top 10 three laps from the finish. Confirming his front-running pace, the MTECH driver’s best lap of 1m25.592 seconds was just 0.2 seconds shy of the best produced by eventual Winter Series Champion Seb Morris.

“Qualifying was tough, the first race was even tougher, but the last race went well”, said Sean, “The car felt amazing really in race two, it was flying but I made a couple of mistakes unfortunately which nearly ruined all the good work I’d done. I just had to work even harder then, it was really good fun.

“I had some great battles with the guys around me, all clean driving which was great to be part of. We could have got a bit more out of the weekend, certainly race two, but overall I’m pleased to end the Winter Series with that sort of performance.”

With his Formula Renault commitments concluded for 2012, next on the calendar for Sean will be his final competitive outing of the year during round two of the inaugural MRF Challenge which will take place at Buddh International Circuit in India on Friday, 30th November, and Saturday, 1st December.

Provisional Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin Standings:
9th Sean Walkinshaw, 39pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.