Nissan GT Academy Team RJN driver Sean Walkinshaw heads to the Nurburgring in Germany this weekend, 17th/18th September, for the conclusion of the Blancpain Endurance Cup where he and team-mates Matt Simmons and Romain Sarazin are bidding for a positive end to the campaign.
Buoyed by a season-best outing in the sister Blancpain Sprint Cup last month, where he raced to second place in the Silver Cup class with series team-mate Ricardo Sánchez, Oxfordshire driver Sean is looking to try and break back into the Pro-Am points in the final Endurance Cup race of 2016.
During the previous Blancpain Endurance Cup outing at the end of July, the twice-round-the-clock Total 24 Hours of Spa, there was more cheer for the Nissan trio with a 13th place result in Pro-Am thanks to a terrific race finish – an achievement in itself after 24 hours of intense action.
“All year we’ve raced well and had good pace in the races, plus we’ve found some things with set-up along the way which have helped”, said Sean, “Qualifying has been the big problem for us, getting one quick lap out of the car with the BOP [Balance of Performance] as it is has been tough, but we always come through in the races – especially in the longer Endurance Cup rounds.”
Opening the season with a top 12 Pro-Am result at Monza in Italy, having been in contention for a potential sixth place until late on, the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 drivers impressed at Sean’s home track, Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, during round two with seventh spot and a maiden points finish.
Hopes of building on that at Paul Ricard in France at the halfway point of the Endurance Cup didn’t come to fruition as a result of an early race puncture. Even so, the race pace delivered by all three team-mates enabled them to battle from stone last into 14th place in Pro-Am in the six-hour contest
Then heading to the blue riband Total 24 Hours of Spa, where Sánchez joined his three fellow NISMO drivers in the expanded four driver line-up, the performance there certainly underlined the strong competitiveness in race conditions of the Nissan which, it is hoped, will be replicated in Germany.
“Hopefully we can do well at the Nurburgring, all of the Nissans went well there last year”, added the Oxfordshire driver, “We’ll try to qualify as high up the order as we can but I’m hopeful we will have the race pace to challenge for a top five in Pro-Am. It’d be great to try and end the Endurance season with a class podium, we’ll have to see what happens.”
Following testing and Pre-Qualifying on Saturday, 17th September, the all-important final qualifying session for round five of the Blancpain Endurance Cup will take place at 07.30 (UK time) on Sunday, 18th September, with the race itself getting underway at 13.45 (UK time) with live online streaming at www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live