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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.

Sean WalkinshawChipping Norton’s Sean Walkinshaw will make his competitive debut in the newly re-energised Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit this coming weekend, 25th/26th May.

Taking part in the opening event of the British F3 season at his ‘home’ track to gain some additional race mileage and seat time in his Dallara F308, the European Formula 3 Open ‘Copa Class’ regular is aiming to use the extra experience to help kick-start his 2013 campaign.

“I’m approaching the whole Silverstone weekend as more of a test than anything else”, said the Team West-Tec racer, “We’re going to be in against some much quicker cars from the FIA Formula 3 European Championship so we won’t really be able to compete that much. Having said that though a couple of my team-mates will be doing it as well so we’ll have a nice little battle amongst ourselves.

“Hopefully it’ll be a valuable weekend, I’m just focused on learning as much as I can and getting some more race experience in the F3 car. It is going to be nice racing on my home track, it’s always great to visit Silverstone, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Sean’s most recent outing in Euro F3 Open at Portimao in southern Portugal just over a week ago, 11th/12th May, was luckless from start to finish. Beginning with unfortunate troubles in qualifying, those were then compounded by incident in both races.

Forced to start the first Portimao encounter from 12th in the Copa Class, having sustained damaged suspension in qualifying, the 19-year-old wasn’t able to make much headway in the race when he was punted into retirement by a rival after just a couple of laps. In round four, an enforced pit-stop to remove debris from the rear of his Dallara dropped him a lap down to a finish of 11th in class.

“It was a bit of a nightmare all weekend to be honest”, reflected the Oxfordshire driver, “In first qualifying I damaged the suspension when I caught a kerb a bit too hard and in the race I got taken out. In race two qualifying, my new tyre run was disrupted by red flags but the race itself wasn’t going too badly to begin with to be fair.

“I went slightly wide at one point though and picked up some artificial turf in the rear floor of the car, it got stuck there so it was like there was no downforce at the back. So I had to pit to have it removed which ruined the race. If we can have two trouble-free races at Silverstone and make some progress it’ll stand us in good stead for the following weekend at the Nurburgring in Euro F3 Open.”

Provisionally, qualifying for the opening three rounds of the British F3 season at Silverstone will take place at 10.45 on Saturday, 25th May, with race one beginning at 15.10. On Sunday, 26th May, race two is scheduled to start at 12.00 with race three following at 16.55 – both of the Sunday encounters are set to be screened live on Motors TV.

Photo by European F3 Open.

Sean Walkinshaw (No.33)Sean Walkinshaw enjoyed two very positive days of officially timed European Formula 3 Open testing at the Circuit de Catalunya last week, the Team West-Tec driver’s maiden experience of the famous Spanish track which will host the finale of the 2013 season in early November.

After posting a pair of top six results in the recently concluded Winter Series, the 19-year-old ‘Copa’ class driver continued to progress strongly in his Dallara-Toyota ahead of the main championship campaign – his first season in F3 – which will commence at the end of April.

Lapping with a day one best of 1m45.334 seconds (159.1 km/h) last Thursday, 14th March, setting the time during the third of four sessions to place third in class at that point, the Chipping Norton youngster went on to again finish in the Copa top six on his final outing of the day.

On Friday, 15th March, Sean managed to find an additional 0.4 seconds to conclude the test with a quickest time of 1m44.978 seconds (159.6 km/h). Consistently competitive throughout day two, he was fourth in class in session one, third in session two and fifth in both afternoon runs where he set his fastest lap of all.

“The test, overall, was pretty good”, said the Oxfordshire racer, “It was a very productive couple of days and I certainly learnt a lot more about the car. The overall lap time wasn’t as quick as I wanted as we didn’t find a good balance on the new tyres, so couldn’t get the best out of them.

“We did a lot of good work focusing on race distances though, we found a great set-up and the times on those runs were good and consistent. From what we managed to work through, I think we’ve laid some strong foundations for the main season.”

Paul Ricard HTTT in the south of France will host the opening event of the 2013 European Formula 3 Open season on 27th/28th April. The UK round of the eight-event championship will take place over the weekend 13th/14th July at Sean’s home track, Silverstone in Northamptonshire, with the season set to reach a conclusion in Barcelona in November.

Sean Walkinshaw - F4BRDC Formula 4 Championship team SWR yesterday, Tuesday, 12th March, got its hands on the first of two MSV F4-013 cars it will run in the brand new championship this year – properly kick-starting the Oxfordshire squad’s 2013 preparations.

Collecting the chassis from Bedford Autodrome, the headquarters of the MotorSport Vision-run F4 series, SWR team owner Sean Walkinshaw, team principal Ken Page and commercial manager Mick Gomme each travelled from the team’s base in Chipping Norton to get an eagerly awaited initial look at its new 2.0-litre Cosworth-powered racer.

Now able to get its pre-season testing programme underway, SWR is eager to run its MSV F4-013 on track for the first time to learn as much as possible ahead of the championship curtain-raiser on 27th/28th April at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit.

“It’s great to finally get our hands on our first F4 car and the team is really looking forward to getting to work on it as soon as possible”, said Walkinshaw, “Although there are still more than six weeks to go until the start of the season, it’ll soon fly by so it’s important to begin understanding the car right away and to get as much testing mileage under our belts as we can.

“The car looks just as fantastic now as it did when we first got a glimpse at the official unveiling at the Autosport Show back in January. It really is a serious single-seater and from what we’ve seen of the development work undertaken so far by MSV, it looks like being a very quick and capable car.”

As well as running at some of the UK’s biggest race meetings and best tracks during its inaugural season, BRDC Formula 4 will also benefit from a superb television package with highlights coverage of each and every race weekend to be carried on Freeview channels ITV4 and ITV4 HD and also on cable and digital satellite channel Motors TV.

Sean WalkinshawChipping Norton’s Sean Walkinshaw posted a hard-fought top six ‘Copa’ class result during the second round of the 2013 European Formula 3 Open Winter Series at Jerez in Spain on Saturday, 2nd March.

Marking his first competitive appearance at the track, the Team West-Tec driver began the weekend in impressive form with a strong showing in testing before going on to match the sixth place finish he achieved on his championship debut a fortnight ago.

Qualifying was unfortunately much tougher than expected, with a lack of grip hampering his chances of a top three or four starting slot, so Sean had to settle for ninth in class and 21st position overall on the grid.

Quickly moving into the top eight in the Copa battle, the 19-year-old made further gains at the wheel of his Toyota-engined Dallara F308 after a brief Safety Car period and by mid-distance he was into sixth position before being pushed back a place on lap 10.

Remaining there until three laps from the finish, the Gloucester Rugby-backed racer re-took sixth on lap 16 which he maintained to the chequered flag – also meaning he ended the outing 14th overall in the combined classification.

“Everything started well in testing and at the end of morning practice we were fourth quickest in class, so I was pretty optimistic for qualifying”, explained Sean, “We just couldn’t get the lap time together when we needed to though. We missed the window for the tyres, I then stayed out trying to improve but it didn’t help and I just lost more and more grip.

“The race was always going to be hard work from where we started, and the tyres weren’t in great shape, but we still managed to make some progress. If we’d have got the lap time together when it mattered in qualifying, the race would have been a much different story.”

Having targeted a podium result prior to the weekend, Sean was disappointed not to achieve that goal. He did though conclude his second weekend as a fully-fledged Formula 3 driver satisfied with the experience gained ahead of the main 2013 season.

“It’s been a very useful weekend in terms of gaining knowledge of the track for when we visit Jerez again in the summer”, he added, “We were really quick in practice on Friday, we know we had the pace to be higher up the grid in qualifying so we’re positive about that and looking forward to the start of the full championship in April.”

Sean’s focus now turns to the BRDC Formula 4 Championship, where he manages the eponymous Sean Walkinshaw Racing (SWR) team. He will return to the cockpit of his Formula 3 car for the start of the 2013 European F3 Open Championship on 27th/28th April at Paul Ricard HTTT in France.

Sean WalkinshawEuropean Formula 3 Open rookie Sean Walkinshaw is aiming for a strong start to his maiden season of racing on the continent when the 2013 Winter Series gets underway at Paul Ricard in France next Saturday, 16th February – the precursor to the main championship campaign which begins in April.

Making the move into Formula 3 this year for only his third full season of competitive motorsport at any level, the Chipping Norton 19-year-old will drive a Toyota-powered Dallara F308, engineered by multiple title winning squad Team West-Tec, in the ‘Copa’ Class of the burgeoning championship.

Next weekend’s opening round of the European F3 Open Winter Series will provide Sean’s first seat time in the car since testing at Valencia in Spain, just prior to Christmas, where he delivered a series of consistently competitive performances and was one of the true class pace-setters.

After two productive seasons in the UK in Protyre Formula Renault BARC – with further experience gained in the InterSteps Championship, Formula BMW Asia and the MSV F3 Cup where he secured a sensational race-winning double on his category debut – the Oxfordshire youngster is determined to hit the ground running on the European stage.

“Hopefully we can try and keep things on a high, the pre-Christmas test went really well so I’m aiming to keep that momentum going into the Winter Series”, said Sean, “We’ll do some work in the simulator before going out to Paul Ricard, it’s a circuit I know though from when I raced in Formula BMW [Asia] last year so I’m confident we should be able to get up to speed quickly.

“I’ve adapted to the F3 car much better than the [Formula] Renault, the extra grip the car provides just seems to suit me much more so I want to go out there and get on the podium. Unfortunately, I damaged my left knee ligament in training before Christmas so I’ve been recovering from that, but everything will be fine for next weekend.”

As well as being able to draw on the extensive knowledge gained over the years by British-based Team West-Tec, one of the most respected teams in European F3 Open, Sean also has the benefit this year of the driver coaching skills of 2012 British F3 International Series Champion Jack Harvey.

“It’s going to be great working with Jack and all the West-Tec guys this season, we all gelled really quickly in testing at the end of last year”, added Sean, “Everything went very smoothly, perfect really, so I can’t wait for Paul Ricard.”

Following a full day of officially timed testing on Friday, 15th February, at the Le Castellet track, qualifying and the opening round of the 2013 European F3 Open Winter Series will take place on Saturday, 16th February, with the race itself scheduled to begin at approximately 15.00 (local time).

Jerez in Spain will host the concluding round of the Winter Series on Saturday, 2nd March, with the main 2013 championship commencing on 27th/28th April with a return visit to Paul Ricard.

Sean Walkinshaw - Team West-Tec F3Oxfordshire’s Sean Walkinshaw has agreed a deal with leading squad Team West-Tec to contest the full 2013 European Formula 3 Open season – preceded by the two-event Winter Series which will begin in mid-February.

Set to pilot a Dallara F308 in the ‘Copa’ Class of the ultra-competitive championship, the 19-year-old from Chipping Norton will begin preparations for his debut campaign in Europe with a three-day test outing at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain, later this month.

“It’s great to have confirmed our plans for next year so early”, said Sean, “I’ve already tested with West-Tec and it all went really well, the guys are great to work with, so I can’t wait to get our winter programme underway.

“Euro F3 Open really has become one of the best Formula 3 championships around over the last few years, it’s very competitive and a fantastic place to learn and develop as a driver. F3 is the right step for me after two years in Formula Renault, plus we’ll be racing on some great international tracks.”

In just two short years of motor racing at any level, Sean has made terrific progress – in particular his recently concluded 2012 season in which he dovetailed his second year of Protyre Formula Renault BARC action with a part campaign in the InterSteps Championship.

Debuting in Formula 3 back in September in the MSV F3 Cup, the Gloucester Rugby-supported racer starred with a remarkable winning double at the wheel of a Dallara F302. During the year he also experienced action in Formula BMW Asia and the Indian-based MRF Challenge, the latter supporting the FIA Formula One World Championship.

Corby-based Team West-Tec, a multiple championship winning squad in European F3 Open headed by Gavin Wills and John Miller, has an enviable record in the series. Winning the Copa de Espana Class during its maiden season in 2007, the squad secured its second title in 2009 and then did the double in 2011 with Copa and overall team championship success.

“I am delighted to welcome Sean to the team”, said Miller, “He hasn’t had the karting experience of some of his rivals, but he has had a busy year gaining experience and impressed the whole team in testing with his speed, endurance and intelligence. I am sure he is going to do well.”

European F3 Open’s 2013 Winter Series will commence on 15th/16th February at Paul Ricard HTTT in France with the second event, at Jerez in Spain, scheduled for 1st/2nd March. The main 2013 season will get underway with a return visit to Paul Ricard, over the weekend 27th/28th April, and will reach its conclusion on 9th/10th November in Barcelona, Spain.

Photo by Alan Smeaton/AS Autosport.

SWRSeven weeks after announcing its long-awaited return to UK motorsport, Walkinshaw Racing has confirmed it will run under the rebranded ‘Sean Walkinshaw Racing’ banner for the inaugural BRDC Formula 4 Championship season.

Instantly bringing to mind the legendary world-beating TWR brand established by Sean’s late, great father Tom Walkinshaw, SWR marks the beginning of another fresh chapter in the family’s glorious history – one in which the team is already making rapid progress with its preparations for 2013.

Sean, who dovetailed Protyre Formula Renault BARC and InterSteps Championship campaigns this year while also making selected outings in Formula BMW, MSV F3 Cup and the Indian-based MRF Challenge, will have involvement with the squad bearing his name.

The day-to-day running of SWR, though, will continue to be handled by team principal Ken Page with key support from commercial manager Mick Gomme, formerly of Jordan Grand Prix and, more recently, the Force India F1 Team. Engineering operations, meanwhile, are headed by former TWR chief designer Brendan Gribben.

“Everything has been moving forward very quickly since we announced our plans to be part of F4, we’ve been delighted with the number of serious enquiries from drivers and the actual team itself is taking shape nicely”, commented Page.

“Sean’s own track career is progressing well and we want to develop the SWR brand, so it made absolute sense to field our Formula 4 entry as SWR. There’s obviously a nice link there with the TWR of old and we’re planning on making a suitable impact, we’re not there to make up the numbers.”

Located in Chipping Norton, West Oxfordshire, SWR is to field a two car entry in the inaugural BRDC Formula 4 Championship which is scheduled to get underway over the weekend 27th/28th April at the team’s ‘home’ track, Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit. The season will conclude five months later, at Donington Park GP Circuit, on 28th/29th September.

Drivers interested in discussing SWR’s 2013 race packages should contact Mick Gomme on 0845 4020402, 07702 669418 or email Mick.Gomme@walkinshawperformance.co.uk.

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.

Sean Walkinshaw - Silverstone FR BARCMTECH Lite’s Sean Walkinshaw rounded off the Protyre Formula Renault BARC season with a top 12 result during the final race of the 2012 championship at Silverstone on Sunday, 7th October, after a robust and incident-packed weekend of action on the 1.64-mile National Circuit.

Showing great pace in qualifying for rounds 13 and 14, running in support of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the Chipping Norton 18-year-old secured eighth on the grid for Sunday’s televised race with a lap of 56.600 seconds (104.33mph) placing him only 0.2 seconds shy of pole.

His chances of a similarly strong performance in the opening 15-minute qualifying period, which got underway in damp conditions, weren’t aided by a red flag period midway through and having joined in the session late, Sean ran out of laps as the track dried – having to settle for 13th on the grid for race one.

Determined for a strong climb through the order in round 13 on Saturday, 6th October, the second year racer was unfortunately shuffled back to 15th position on the opening lap but worse was to follow soon after when contact from another car wrecked the front wing on Sean’s FR. 2.0; leading to a frustrating retirement at the end of lap four.

Starting Sunday’s race from the fourth row of the grid, Sean had a good chance to try and better his season’s best eighth place from the Croft event in July and at the beginning he held on to eighth spot well but was bundled back to 10th just prior to the emergence of the Safety Car on lap three.

When racing resumed on lap seven, the Oxfordshire teenager wasn’t able to capitalise from the re-start and instead he was attacked into Copse which resulted in Sean having to run wide to avoid any contact.

Thankfully emerging unscathed, he spent the remainder of the final round bottled up behind the car of Brazilian driver Henrique Baptista. Another Safety Car period was required late in the race, leaving a two-lap sprint at the end in which Sean managed to keep at bay the experienced Josh Webster who was recovering after an earlier incident.

“We were hindered by the red flag in the first qualifying so we didn’t have very much time to get anything better than P13 for the first race”, explained Sean, “The second session wasn’t too bad though, I was reasonably happy with eighth on the grid for race two although without a small mistake I could have been a couple of places higher as I lost a tenth.

“Both races were quite frustrating really, in the first another driver just swung across and destroyed my front wing with his rear wheel. In the second one, I got a really bad re-start after the first Safety Car which meant I was passed into Copse and then someone else tried a fun-lunge as well, it was a bit dangerous, and I had to run wide and get on the brakes so lost a lot of time.”

Sean added: “After that the pace was alright but we lost too much ground, then we had another Safety Car so the race was pretty frustrating overall. We should have had more out of the weekend but we’ve got the Winter Series to look forward to next. It should be good and I’m well settled into the team so we’re hoping for two really strong weekends, I can’t wait for that to start now.”

Rounds one and two of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series will take place just a fortnight from now, over the weekend 20th/21st October, at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent – once again in support of the BTCC and with the promise of live television coverage on ITV4.

Final Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings:
18th Sean Walkinshaw, 71pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.