Rockingham International Sports Car Circuit proved a happy hunting ground for Sean Walkinshaw on Sunday, 2nd September, as he secured his maiden InterSteps Championship podium finish on only his fourth weekend in the series.
Having matched his previous best result of sixth during round 18 on Saturday, 1st September, despite running with an engine problem, the SWB Motorsport driver delivered his most competitive performance of the season yet in an eventful round 19 on Sunday to take a deserved third place.
Starting the second of the weekend’s three races from seventh on the grid, the 18-year-old made a great start to climb into the top five at Deene Hairpin before challenging, and subsequently passing, Jack Aitken for fourth position at Tarzan.
Although tagged heavily from behind on lap two at Deene, which damaged the rear wing of his Mygale FB02, Sean managed to hold onto his fourth place prior to the emergence of the Safety Car on lap six.
Unexpectedly, championship leader Matt Parry was forced to pull off the circuit from second place while the race was under caution and so Sean was able to profit to move into third. At the re-start, on lap nine, he maintained the position and stoutly fended off Nikita Miliakov over the last four laps.
“It’s good to get on the podium”, said Sean, “I was worried I’d got a puncture from being hit at the first hairpin, the rim was digging into the tyre so I don’t know how it didn’t deflate. We had some problems with the engine unfortunately as well but if I could get ahead of people off the start it was fine as I could defend, and that’s what I was able to do in the second race.”
Making the required good getaway at the start of round 20 on Sunday afternoon, from sixth on the grid, the Chipping Norton racer looked to try and gain at least one position on the run through Turn One of the Oval into Deene but he was boxed in at the hairpin and had to lift off the throttle.
Exiting the corner in sixth place, he remained there to the chequered flag on lap 15 but even with the lack of top-end from his engine he was able to lap within 0.7 seconds of podium pace to cap a strong and encouraging, if somewhat frustrating in parts, weekend.
While the final event of the 2012 InterSteps Championship will take place four weeks from now at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire over the weekend 29th/30th September, Sean will be back on track next weekend, 8th/9th September, for his debut outing in a Formula 3 car in the MSV F3 Cup.
Taking place at Anglesey International Circuit in North Wales, the seventh event of the F3 Cup season will see the Oxfordshire driver pilot a Dallara F302 fielded and engineered by experienced squad Lanan Racing.