Final Round Dramas Spoil Walkinshaw's Hopes of Zandvoort Success

Published: 12 October 2015
Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 racer Sean Walkinshaw.
Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 racer Sean Walkinshaw.

Pictured: Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 racer Sean Walkinshaw.

Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 racer Sean Walkinshaw missed out on battling for the second podium of his debut season in the Blancpain Sprint Series at Zandvoort on Sunday, 11th October, when caught up in an unfortunate tangle at the beginning of the final race of a very dramatic season.

Beginning the event’s Main Race from fifth on the grid, the Chipping Norton driver made a good getaway at the rolling start but mere yards from the line he was the innocent party in a collision involving the two Team Brasil BMWs.

Ricocheting into the Always Evolving Motorsport Nissan, despite a heavy whack to the rear of the car Sean worked wonders to keep the No.173 machine pointing in the right direction. Heading into the first corner still maintaining a top six placing, he instantly gained two positions when racing resumed after an initial cautionary period.

Unfortunately, though, the damage sustained took its toll on the Nissan. Gradually slipping down the order, Sean dropped to eighth before his and team-mate Craig Dolby’s race was run all too early at the 22 minute mark when the 21-year-old had to pit and retire the car.

“Even though we’ve had quite a bit of bad luck this year, this weekend included obviously, it’s been a great season and I’ve really enjoyed it”, said Sean, “All the guys at Always Evolving Motorsport and JRM have done an incredible job with the car and I’ve learnt so much from Craig, we’ve shown how quick we are and how well we work together.

“Obviously, we wanted to end the season on the podium if we could but it didn’t work out that way in the end and that’s the story of the year really – the car has been fantastic, we’ve had very strong pace, but the results just haven’t come to us. Overall, though, I’m pretty happy for my first season in GT racing.”

Things were more straightforward in Saturday’s Qualification Race where Dolby took the first stint, making a good start from seventh on the grid to climb into sixth place through the first corner when the No.1 Team WRT Audi visited the gravel trap.

After a brief Safety Car period, the Briton maintained his top six placing and he remained there up to the mandatory driver change pit-stops at mid-distance. Sean took over the Nissan with just over half an hour to go and, thanks to an excellent turnaround in the pits by the Always Evolving Motorsport crew, the 21-year-old held an improved fifth position when the order settled.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, Sean started to come under immense pressure from the Audi of Stephane Richelmi but with some superb driving he managed to keep his rival at bay. With little more than five minutes to go, the Audi managed to squeeze alongside the AEM Nissan to edge Sean back to sixth where he stayed to the finish.

Final Blancpain Sprint Series Driver Standings:
14th Sean Walkinshaw/Craig Dolby, 31pts

Final Blancpain GT Series Standings:
19th Sean Walkinshaw/Craig Dolby, 45pts