Chipping Norton racing driver Sean Walkinshaw produced two of his most impressive and attacking performances of the EuroFormula Open season at Monza over the weekend, 27th/28th September, to claim a richly deserved points double with the highlight a top six result in the opening encounter.
Beginning round 13 on Saturday at the Italian venue from 14th on the grid, having missed out on an all-important ‘tow’ on his hot laps, the Campos Racing driver had a great start and put together a truly sensational first lap – avoiding a costly tangle for team-mate Alex Palou at the Retifilio Chicane – to slice his way through into seventh position.
Delivering tremendous pace from the outset, the British driver was clearly a man on a mission and began a very tight battle with Konstantin Tereschenko over sixth place. Forced to run straight-on at the first corner on lap four, Sean slipped to ninth but mounted a swift and very rapid recovery.
Taking very little time to close the gap to the cars ahead, on lap seven Sean moved into eighth as a result of a penalty for Tanart Sathienthirakul and then caught Yarin Stern. Piling on the pressure, the 20-year-old grabbed seventh on lap 10 and immediately began to pressure Tereschenko once again.
Climbing all over the back of the Russian’s car during the final five laps, Sean tried everything in the book to carve open a passing opportunity. While ultimately unsuccessful, taking the chequered flag just 0.377 seconds adrift, he did move into the top six on the last lap after a spin for Andres Saravia.
“We struggled all day on Friday to get a balance and set-up I was happy with, then in first qualifying we missed out on the tow and that’s so important at Monza”, said the Oxfordshire racer, “We made some tweaks for the race and the car felt a lot better, I was able to use the tow and fought my way up the order pretty well. With a few more laps, I’m sure we could have finished even higher.”
Race two on Sunday didn’t begin as planned for Sean but during the final few laps a dramatic rise into the points-paying top 10 marked another tremendous performance. Slipping back a couple of places from his grid slot of 15th position after being forced to avoid a collision ahead, he recovered the lost ground over the first few laps and moved up into 14th place on the fifth tour.
Then swarming all over the back of William Barbosa’s car, Sean was frustratingly bottled up behind his defensive rival but did manage to make the breakthrough on lap eight. With a huge gap of more than seven seconds to bridge to the next group of cars, the Briton reeled off a series of sensational laps and then profited from a tangle ahead on lap 12 to move into 11th position.
With just four laps remaining, Sean continued to push incredibly hard and broke into the coveted top 10 on lap 14 before then gaining another place on the final tour when Yu Kanamaru crashed out at the Parabolica.
“There was a lot of traffic in qualifying on Sunday, people were blocking and backing off when they knew you were in their tow so it was a bit messy”, explained Sean, “For the race, though, we got the set-up sorted and the car had a really strong balance. I had to avoid a crash, which dropped me back to about 18th, but our fight-back was really strong and the race pace was great.
“Towards the end, I was catching the group for seventh and eighth at about one second per lap but we just ran out of time to try and make up any more places. The car really was strong for race two, it was easy to follow the cars in front – the team did a great job.”
There is now a lengthy five week break in the EuroFormula Open calendar ahead of the final two races of the 2014 season which will take place at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, over the weekend 1st/2nd November. Rounds 15 and 16 will also count as the final two races in the battle for the accompanying Spanish F3 Championship title.
Provisional 2014 EuroFormula Open Standings (after Rd14):
10th Sean Walkinshaw, 49pts
Provisional 2014 Spanish F3 Championship Standings (after Rd4):
10th Sean Walkinshaw, 13pts