Sean Walkinshaw claimed his first points finish of the EuroFormula Open season during the second event of the campaign at the Autódromo do Algarve in Portugal over the weekend, 7th/8th June, to move into the top 12 in the championship standings.
Although qualifying didn’t go to plan, the 20-year-old delivered the superb front-running pace he had consistently displayed in testing during both of the races – taking an excellent seventh place finish in round three on Saturday and a battling 12th position in round four from the back of the grid.
In addition to his appearance on the EuroFormula Open points table, the Chipping Norton driver is also 10th overall in the Spanish F3 battle – EuroFormula organiser GT Sport having re-established the domestic Spanish title from this weekend forward. As well as the Portimao races, the other events which will qualify for inclusion are Jerez in a couple of weeks and the outing at Barcelona in October.
“We’ve definitely made good progress this weekend, overall I’m pretty happy”, said Sean, “It’s been a lot better than things were at the Nurburgring, we were much more competitive and hopefully we can keep that progress moving forward now to Jerez in a couple of weeks.”
With two days of testing prior to the weekend, Sean certainly made the most of the track time with some very impressive pace. Finishing fourth fastest in the opening test session on Thursday, 5th June, he went on to lap inside the top eight in the afternoon.
During the three ‘free practice’ sessions on Friday, 6th June, the Oxfordshire racer continued his terrific preparation. After posting the 13th fastest time in the opening run, he leapt into the top four again in session two and then lapped seventh quickest in the day’s final outing.
Round three qualifying on Saturday morning, though, didn’t go as hoped and Sean ended up with the 15th fastest time of the session. Determined to carve his way into the points, the Campos Racing driver made swift progress at the beginning of the opening race and avoided a multi-car incident to end the first lap in ninth place.
Upping his pace throughout, Sean moved into the top eight on the third tour and remained there until a Safety Car period at mid-distance. Moving into seventh when Sandy Stuvik pitted, Sean was challenged for the place soon after but managed to return to seventh with five laps remaining. With a best lap of 1m44.543 seconds (161.297 km/h), he lapped with pace good enough for the top four.
Set to begin round four on Sunday from 11th on the grid, lapping just 0.2 seconds shy of the top five in the second qualifying session, his afternoon’s work was made all the harder when an unfortunate stall on the way to his starting slot led to a second green flag lap and meant Sean would have to start at the back of the 20-car grid.
Remaining calm and focused on the job in hand, the British driver made swift progress to climb into the top 16 by the end of lap two and within six more laps Sean had moved in 13th position. Securing one more place on the final tour, and then battling for 11th position too, he ultimately claimed 12th position to cap an impressively strong recovery.
“Race two was a little bit disappointing, although we did come through quite well”, reflected the second year EuroFormula Open racer, “After stalling on the way to the grid spot, the clutch got quite hot and the car just wouldn’t re-start unfortunately. So, we had to start at the back but it was quite a strong drive.
“From the start of the weekend in testing our pace was good, we didn’t make the step forward some of the others did in qualifying though. We did make a bit of a mistake in Saturday’s session with the timing of our new tyre run, but the race was good and finishing in the points was great.”
Jerez in Spain will be the venue for rounds five and six of the EuroFormula Open season a fortnight from now, over the weekend 21st/22nd June.
Provisional 2014 EuroFormula Open Standings (after Rd4):
12th Sean Walkinshaw, 6pts
Provisional 2014 Spanish F3 Championship Standings (after Rd2):
10th Sean Walkinshaw, 6pts