Five weeks since scoring his first Pro-Am points of the Blancpain Endurance Cup on home soil at Silverstone, Nissan GT Academy Team RJN racer Sean Walkinshaw is relishing the coming weekend’s eagerly awaited resumption of the championship at Paul Ricard HTTT in France.
Round three of the campaign, the Paul Ricard 1000km, will be contested on Saturday, 25th June, and will be the longest race of the season so far – a full six hours in duration. Not only that, the challenge is further enhanced by the fact the race will start in the evening and finish at midnight.
Chipping Norton-based Sean, who is partnered by fellow NISMO Athletes Matt Simmons and Romain Sarazin, has renewed confidence heading into the latest round of the Endurance Cup after delivering a very strong performance at Silverstone last time out.
Racing to a seventh place finish, having started the second round 14th in Pro-Am, the trio certainly made an impact and came very close to achieving a coveted top six result. Marking a significant step forward from the opening round at Monza in Italy, where the No.22 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 ended the race 12th in class, Sean now hopes for more progression a few days from now.
“Paul Ricard should be fantastic, I’m really looking forward to being back there and being back in the Nissan to see what we can do in the six-hour”, he said, “Silverstone went pretty well, better than Monza – we’ve definitely made progress. Hopefully we can have a smooth weekend in France and build on that.”
Six hours is double the usual length of a Blancpain Endurance Cup race and, with the added spice of the dark night skies during the latter stages of the contest, the Paul Ricard encounter is set to be one of the most spectacular of the season.
Sean added: “It’s going to be great having double the time in the car and the night-time aspect of the race is going to be good preparation for the Spa 24 Hours next month too. I think we should be competitive at Ricard, another points finish – preferably higher than Silverstone – is the aim.”
During the corresponding fixture last year, where Sean competed with Nissan customer team MRS GT Racing, he produced a superb performance and during his stint he was one of the fastest drivers on track. On course for an outright top 10, damage to a turbo pipe sadly put paid to those hopes.
Practice and Pre-Qualifying for round three of the Blancpain Endurance Cup will take place on Friday, 24th June, with final qualifying following at 09.45 (local time) on Saturday, 25th June, and the big race itself getting underway at 18.00 (local time). Live coverage of the Paul Ricard 1,000km will be streamed online HERE (http://www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live).
Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Driver Standings (after Rd2):
10th Sean Walkinshaw/Matt Simmons/Romain Sarazin, 6pts
Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Team Standings (after Rd2):
10th Nissan GT Academy Team RJN, 6pts