Autobacs Racing Team Aguri driver Sean Walkinshaw returns to the Far East just a few days from now in readiness for the second race of his maiden season in the immensely competitive Super GT Championship, the Fuji 500km.
Chipping Norton-based Walkinshaw, who partners successful Japanese racer Shinichi Takagi in the GT300 class, was delighted with a top five result on his Super GT debut last time out at Okayama in Japan and is targeting more steps forward on his second appearance in the category.
Uniquely, round two of the campaign will take place next Thursday, 4th May, during a three-day national holiday in Japan at one of the country’s most famous, and storied, circuits – Fuji Speedway in the foothills of the imposing and iconic Mount Fuji.
“We made a very good start to the campaign in round one and I’m looking forward now to being back at Fuji”, said BMW M6 pilot Walkinshaw, “We haven’t had as much testing there as we had at Okayama, but we know our car is competitive from how strong it was last year and the testing we have done at Fuji has gone well.
“I’m really, really enjoying driving the BMW. In many ways it’s the opposite of the Nissan I raced in Blancpain over the last couple of years as it’s strong in the slower speed sections. It’s very good on the brakes too but there are still lots of things I need to learn, especially pace over one lap.”
At Okayama just over a fortnight ago a red flag interrupted qualifying session threatened to leave a mountain to climb in the 300km contest, but the No.55 ARTA entry shone on raceday with Takagi getting the encounter off to a terrific start.
From 18th on the GT300 grid, he stormed through the order and during the mid-race pit stop phase the BMW did lead at one point. Following the driver change, Walkinshaw raced very competitively on his debut and while a Safety Car period did impact the ARTA tyre strategy the Briton still secured an excellent fifth place, little more than half a second behind the top four.
Heading to Fuji the Briton is relishing his next challenge, saying: “It’s going to be quite a long race at 500km, I’m looking forward to it and the aim is obviously to get up to speed as quickly as possible. It’s been a good start so far, hopefully we can build on that in Fuji and take away some big points.”
Practice and qualifying for round two of the Super GT season at Fuji Speedway will take place next Wednesday, 3rd May, with the 500km contest scheduled for Thursday, 4th May.
2017 Super GT – GT300 Driver Standings (after Rd1)
5th Sean Walkinshaw & Shinichi Takagi, 6pts
2017 Super GT – GT300 Team Standings (after Rd1)
5th Autobacs Racing Team Aguri, 9pts