Blancpain Sprint Cup racer Sean Walkinshaw and Nissan GT Academy team-mate Ricardo Sánchez secured an excellent season-best second place Silver Cup finish during round four of the campaign at the Hungaroring last Sunday, 28th August.
Bettering the top three result the duo achieved at Brands Hatch back in May, the pairing produced a very competitive showing in the Main Race on Sunday afternoon to climb from 25th overall into 19th position – taking the chequered flag just behind the sister ‘Pro’ Nissan GT Academy Team RJN car.
While qualifying didn’t go according to plan for Sean and Sánchez, the No.22 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 lining up 33rd overall on the grid and fifth in the Silver Cup for the Qualification Race, they went on to produce a significant step forward in pace during the weekend’s two contests.
Chipping Norton racer Sean took the opening stint of race one on Saturday, 27th August, and pieced together an impressive first lap to gain no fewer than six places to leap into 27th position, and also fourth in class, before being edged back to 29th.
Following a Full Course Yellow period, triggered due to a stranded car on track, racing resumed on lap four and despite being shuffled down to 31st place overall shortly after Sean moved back into 30th spot prior to the pit stops.
As a number of drivers served their mandatory driver changes as soon as the pit window opened at the 25-minute mark, Sean remained on track and climbed into 15th overall and third in the Silver Cup before pitting to hand over to Sánchez with just under half an hour to go.
The Mexican rejoined the race in 27th position, fourth in class, and after climbing as high as 24th place he ultimately had to settle for fifth in the Silver Cup and 25th position overall at the end of the 60-minute contest.
Sunday’s headline race delivered a greater upturn in performance for the duo with Sánchez taking the wheel for the opening stint. Making a great start, he climbed into 21st overall and third in the Silver Cup prior to a Full Course Yellow period which lasted around 10 minutes.
When the pit window opened after 25 minutes of racing had elapsed, the Mexican stayed on track and didn’t pit until just after the half hour mark. Holding third in class and sixth overall at that point, when Sean got behind the wheel he swiftly moved up into second in the Silver Cup where he stayed to the conclusion.
Taking the chequered flag in 19th overall, capping an encouraging and rewarding outing in Budapest, the Oxfordshire driver was just three seconds shy of the No.23 Nissan GT Academy entry shared by Alex Buncombe and Lucas Ordonez.
“Sunday’s race was a big step forward for us – fantastic to finish second in the Silver Cup”, reflected NISMO Athlete Sean, “We obviously made good progress from where we qualified in race one, but race two was definitely the highlight of the weekend and the team did a great job with the car.
“None of us knew what to expect from the Hungaroring really with the Nissan and although qualifying left a lot of work to do, we were able to race well with strong pace and finish the weekend very positively.”
Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya will host the finale of the Blancpain Sprint Cup season over the weekend 1st/2nd October. Two weeks earlier, Sean will be in action at the Nurburgring in Germany for the final race of the sister Blancpain Endurance Cup on Sunday, 18th September.
2016 Blancpain Sprint Cup ‘Silver Cup’ Standings (after Rd4):
4th Sean Walkinshaw/Ricardo Sánchez, 64pts