Sean Walkinshaw embarks on, by far, the biggest challenge of his motor racing career at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps next weekend, 25th/26th July, when he makes his first appearance in the annual Total 24 Hours of Spa – the biggest and most glamorous race in global GT racing.
Round four of the Blancpain Endurance Series, which is set to feature a grid of almost 60 cars from a wide variety of manufacturers, is always one of the most prestigious races on the international motorsport calendar and Chipping Norton racer Sean cannot wait for the event to start.
The 21-year-old has previously contested a 12 hour length contest, a race run in two six hour instalments in Abu Dhabi last November, so next weekend’s encounter will be his longest race by far and first twice-round-the-clock event – and he is confident of a strong showing with MRS GT-Racing.
“I’m obviously really excited for my first 24 hour race, it's definitely going to be the biggest race I've ever taken part in”, said Sean, “This is the one you pretty much look forward to all season, it’s going to be a massive challenge especially as I've never raced at night before and then there is the physical and mental strain of competing over a 24 hour period.”
Joined, as always, in the Endurance Series by team-mates Craig Dolby and Martin Plowman, Sean says the trio’s Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 should be extremely competitive at the 4.3-mile Ardennes track – especially after producing a very promising performance in official testing recently.
Visiting the Spa track in late June, the MRS drivers ended the timed outing eighth fastest in the Pro Cup and inside the overall top 10 – just 0.8 seconds shy of the outright pace. Ahead of the fourth round of the Endurance Series season, the team-mates are 10th in the Pro Cup driver standings while MRS GT-Racing holds seventh position in the team championship.
“We've shown good pace at all the other rounds and the official Spa pre-test went pretty well, therefore I'm pretty confident we should be able to get a good result”, added the Briton, “Also, having Martin [Plowman] there will be very useful because of his experience from competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours, that will be extremely beneficial for all of us.”
Opening practice for the Total 24 Hours of Spa will get underway at 12.00 (local time) on Thursday, 23rd July, with pre-qualifying following at 18.10 (local time). Qualifying will then take place at 20.30 (local time) ahead of night qualifying at 22.15 (local time).
On Friday, 24th July, Super Pole commences at 15.30 (local time) and following a brief warm-up session on Saturday, 25th July, the twice-round-the-clock race will begin at 16.30 (local time). Live coverage will be carried online at http://www.24hoursofspa.com/live from 15.30 (UK time) with television coverage on both British Eurosport and Motors TV.