Sean WalkinshawDouble engine failure during preparation for the opening round of the EuroFormula Open Winter Series at Paul Ricard in France this weekend prevented Sean Walkinshaw from showing his true pace on his debut in the category’s top class – the Briton having to settle for a frustrating 11th place finish.

Making his competitive debut with leading team Campos Racing, the 20-year-old from Chipping Norton had high hopes of a strong start to the Winter Series but an unfortunate engine blow-up during the first test session on Friday, 28th February, set the scene for an exasperating weekend.

While the Campos mechanics did a fantastic job to switch powerplants as quickly as possible, the track time lost was significant. Despite that, Sean was able to re-emerge on circuit halfway through the third run with a new engine bolted into his Dallara and he subsequently went on to give a clear indication of his genuine speed with the second fastest time in the rain-hit final session of the day.

Aiming for a deserved trouble-free run on Saturday, 1st March, the Oxfordshire driver began the day impressively with the sixth quickest time in the first of two morning practice sessions – especially noteworthy when taking into account his lack of dry track time – but, incredibly, a second engine failure followed.

Ultimately qualifying 13th on the grid for round one, Sean managed to make progress over the course of the 14 laps to end the race in 11th position, just 1.5 seconds outside the top 10. Having circulated with top five pace, the event turned out to be a classic case of what might have been.

“It has been a frustrating start to the Winter Series, that’s the best way to sum it up, but there are some positives to take away”, said a phlegmatic Sean, “We definitely had the pace when I was able to run without any issues, my car felt great, but the engine problems limited our running and then impacted on qualifying. We did what we could in the race.

“The organisers of the championship have been great and taken full responsibility for the engine problems and the Campos guys did a fantastic job changing engines, it’s just unfortunate we had two blow-ups. We know we can be quick in the next round at Barcelona, we tested well there before Christmas so I’m confident and definitely looking forward to it.”

Round two of the EuroFormula Open Winter Series will take place a fortnight from now on Saturday, 15th March, at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. Pre-event testing will precede the race meeting at the Barcelona track on Friday, 14th March.