First year Formula 3 racer Sean Walkinshaw was unlucky to miss out on two points finishes during the third event of the European F3 Open season at the Nurburgring over the weekend, 1st/2nd June, but still concluded his maiden visit to the German track happy with a marked improvement in pace.
Returning to action in the pan-European category mere days after making his debut in the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series, the Chipping Norton driver was on course for a pair of top four Copa Class results. However, avoidance of a collision in round five and contact from a rival in round six led to seventh place finishes in both encounters.
“Overall it was a good weekend really”, said Sean, “Our qualifying pace was good, so was the race pace, we should have come away with two fourth places at least. We’re really unfortunate to have scored no points this weekend, but there are a lot of positives for us to take away.”
Track activity on Saturday, 1st June, was delayed due to very thick fog but when qualifying got underway Sean confirmed his strong ‘Copa’ showing from practice by setting the fourth fastest time in class with a lap of 1m56.507s (159.07 km/h) – 17th on the overall grid.
Despite slipping back three places on the opening lap of round five, a result of taking swift avoiding action when the car ahead braked surprisingly early at Turn Eight, the 19-year-old battled back into sixth before being elbowed back to seventh, 18th overall, before the finish.
Starting round six on Sunday, 2nd June, from seventh on the grid, Sean managed to avoid a stalled car ahead and ran fifth in class early on before his Dallara F308 was hit from behind by one of the newer F312 cars. Following a brief Safety Car period, Sean did well to hold sixth place but succumbed on the last lap to an attack from Italian driver Lorenzo Paggi.
Reflecting on the weekend, Sean commented: “First qualifying went alright, I was just pipped by Cameron [Twynham] on his last lap otherwise we’d have been third fastest in class. On the first lap of Saturday’s race I was in fourth but then, at turn eight or nine, the car ahead braked really early and I had to avoid him. When I recovered, I was too far back to try and get the ground back.
“I got held up on my best lap in second qualifying, without that we would have been fourth on the grid instead of seventh. [Liam] Venter had an issue at the start, I had to avoid him, but then after a lap or so one of the F312 cars hit me from behind. It’s a bit disappointing as we should have scored some good points this weekend, but the pace we showed is definitely very encouraging.”
Rounds seven and eight of the European F3 Open season will take place just a fortnight from now, over the weekend 15th/16th June, at Jerez in Spain.