Newly announced NISMO Athlete Sean Walkinshaw says his confidence for the upcoming Blancpain GT Series campaign has been further boosted after this week’s pre-season test at Paul Ricard, where the 22-year-old got behind the wheel of his ‘works’ Nissan GT-R NISMOGT3 for the first time.
Named as part of the reigning Endurance Cup title-winning Nissan GT Academy Team RJN for the 2016 season a fortnight ago, Chipping Norton-based Sean made his first ‘official’ appearance for the marque on Wednesday, 9th March, and Thursday, 10th March, at the popular French track.
“The car felt really good and it’s pretty much exactly what I raced last year in Blancpain, the only differences are some set-up changes so nothing I’ve had to adapt to”, said the Oxfordshire driver, “We’re straight into the first round of the Sprint Cup now in Misano next month, no more testing before then, so it’s all about making sure I’m as prepared as possible over the next few weeks.”
Widely regarded as the premier GT championships on the globe, both Blancpain categories are set for immense grids in 2016 with the Endurance Cup already boasting an entry of 57 cars for the first round and the Sprint Cup set to be contested by no fewer than 38 cars – the latter more than double last year’s entry.
“I think we’ve got a really good chance in both the Endurance Cup and Sprint Cup and they should be fantastic championships with the huge grids they’ve announced”, said Sean, “Having 38 cars in the Sprint Cup is going to mean a lot of action in those short format races – hopefully it won’t mean too many Safety Cars at Misano!”
Nissan is one of 11 prestigious manufacturers represented across the two championships this year, the others being Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
Sean and Sprint Cup team-mate Ricardo Sánchez will be back on track on Friday, 8th April, during practice for the opening round of the 2016 season at Misano in Italy. Qualifying and the Qualification Race will take place on Saturday, 9th April, with the Main Race following on Sunday, 10th April.