First year Formula 3 racer Sean Walkinshaw concluded his maiden season in the European F3 Open with an outing of mixed fortunes at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona over the weekend, 9th/10th November, after two potentially strong race performances were impacted by unfortunate contact.
After a five week break since the previous two rounds, the Chipping Norton driver – who celebrated his 20th birthday the weekend prior – aimed to round-out his debut season in F3 with a return to the Copa Class podium but instead had to settle for a best finish of seventh place in round 16 on Sunday.
Rounding out his rookie F3 campaign ninth in the Copa standings, with two podiums to his credit, Sean was frustrated not to be able to add to his points tally during the Spanish encounter but still takes away a great deal of knowledge and experience from his debut season in the championship.
“We have a lot of positives to take away from this season”, he said, “Most of the European tracks were completely new to me, and I’ve had to adapt to the F3 car, so I’m pleased with some of the results we achieved. We should have had more podiums, without some of the bad luck we would have, but it’s been a good way to start and hopefully we’ll be back stronger in Formula 3 next year.”
Although not quite able to string together his best sector times in round 15 qualifying on Saturday, which cost him a chance of lining-up on the front row in the ‘Copa’, Sean remained confident of consistently strong race performances and things started very well indeed in the opening race.
From sixth in class, the Team West-Tec driver made a fantastic getaway and rocketed into fourth position as he set his sights on achieving his third podium of the year. Running strongly, Sean’s race then came undone through no fault of his own when contact from a rival led to damaged suspension and an immediate retirement for his Dallara F308.
Determined to hit back on Sunday, the Oxfordshire racer faced a tough challenge after qualifying seventh in class but he again made up very good ground at the start. Slicing into the top four, Sean was then tapped by another car and the resulting delay dropped him back to seventh place.
While maintaining his class placing during the early running, Sean was prevented from making the progress he wanted after becoming locked in a battle with several of the quicker F312 Dallaras. In the end, he had to settle for seventh position – just 0.2 seconds shy of Korea’s Che One Lim.
“In first qualifying we got a bit less time out of it than we should have, if we’d hooked the sectors up we could have been second on the Copa grid”, reflected the Briton, “I made a really good start to race one, I was up into about fourth in class but then I got clipped and the contact after that put me in the gravel with damaged suspension – that was obviously quite annoying as it was going well.
“We had much better pace than qualifying showed again in the second session and, initially, I made a good start to the race again and we were fighting for fourth in class. I got tapped though, which put me wide, and I lost a few places as a result. There was quite a lot of traffic with A-class cars in among the Copa guys so it made things quite difficult.”
He added: “Most people tended to have issues with tyre graining, and some of the A-class cars in the train ahead of me did, so I got a bit stuck. Barcelona is quite a hard track to overtake on anyway so it made things pretty challenging. It wasn’t the set of results we wanted for the final weekend, it was just a bit unfortunate the way things turned out as we definitely had the potential for more.”
Final 2013 European Formula 3 Open ‘Copa Class’ Standings:
9th Sean Walkinshaw, 19pts