European Formula 3 Open rookie Sean Walkinshaw achieved his first Copa Class podium of the 2013 season during round seven at a baking-hot Jerez in Spain over the weekend, 15th/16th June, to secure his maiden championship points.
Delivering excellent pace from the off, the Chipping Norton teenager ended pre-event practice with the third fastest ‘Copa’ time in the final session on Friday, 14th June, and was ultra-quick in the first qualifying session but missed out on the top three when forced to back off for yellow flags. Costing Sean a few tenths, he had to be satisfied with ninth in class – just 0.2 seconds shy of the top four.
Therefore lining up in 22nd position overall for the first race of the weekend, he served up a storming first lap and was able to slice his way through into third in the Copa battle, 16th in the outright classification, before pressuring for second in class over the next couple of laps.
Making his way into 14th position overall, ahead of some of the quicker F312 specification Dallaras, the 19-year-old did slip back behind a couple of the newer specification cars before the finish but managed to maintain third in class.
Under big pressure from Igor Urien for the last spot on the Copa Class podium during the final third of the race, Sean soaked up the attention well and managed to eke out a good advantage over the Spaniard before taking the chequered flag on lap 18 two seconds clear in his Team West-Tec Dallara F308. In the overall classification, Sean finished in 15th position.
“It’s fantastic to take our first podium”, said the Oxfordshire driver, “I really enjoyed the race, we were competitive, the car was working really well and the guys at West-Tec did a great job with the set-up. It was definitely our best performance of the season so far.
“Qualifying was very close, we were going really well and I was on for a lap that could have been top three or four but I had to back off for yellow flags. In the race, we made up a lot of ground and I got past a number of the ’12 cars which showed how good our pace was.”
Round eight wasn’t as fruitful for Sean after excellent qualifying pace on older rubber couldn’t be repeated on new tyres when he was baulked. Without a clean lap with the track at its fastest, he had to settle for 13th in class – an uncharacteristic 29th overall – but climbed through to finish inside the top 10 of the ‘Copa’ and in 25th place on the combined classification.
“It’s a bit annoying we couldn’t have qualified where we knew our pace was capable of, we had awesome performance on old tyres but just couldn’t get a clear lap on the new rubber”, said Sean, “In the race I ended up stuck behind one of the F312 cars who was very difficult to try and get by.
“I burnt my tyres out trying to get ahead so then got mugged again by a couple of others. I feel pretty happy with how the overall performance was though this weekend, it’s been good and hopefully we can build on that for Silverstone.”
Next on the European Formula 3 Open schedule is a visit to Sean’s ‘home’ track, Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire, on 13th/14th July for rounds nine and 10 of the 2013 season.
Provisional 2013 European Formula 3 Open ‘Copa Class’ Standings (after Rd8):
10th Sean Walkinshaw, 6pts