Sean Walkinshaw made an encouraging start to the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship pre-season at Donington Park National Circuit on Thursday, 1st March, by posting a fastest time just half a second outside the existing lap record.
The 18-year-old Cheltenham College student, who hails from Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, is heading into only his second full season of motorsport action this year having debuted as a complete car racing novice in Protyre Formula Renault BARC at the start of 2011.
Arriving at Donington for the first officially timed run of the pre-season, Sean and his MTech Lite team were significantly buoyed by the youngster’s tremendous progress. Lapping the 1.98-mile track with a best time of 1m08.335 seconds (104.26mph), he ended the outing almost a full second clear of Brazilian driver Henrique Baptista.
More notably, of course, the lap got him to within just 0.5 seconds of 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Champion Dino Zamparelli’s lap record, set at Donington last April. In the morning session, Sean was also the quickest BARC driver with a time of 1m08.926 seconds (103.36mph).
Travelling across the East Midlands to Rockingham Motor Speedway for an unofficially timed run at the Northamptonshire venue on Friday, 2nd March, the Oxfordshire racer maintained his momentum with another impressive outing.
“It’s been a good start to the year so far”, said Sean, “Everything is going really well with the guys at MTech, it’s a great team and they’re really helping me improve. Donington was great, to get within half a second of the lap record shows the sort of improvements we’ve been making. Formula Renault BARC is a very tough championship but, if we continue like this, it should be a good season.”
After testing a Formula Ford car during a ‘sampler day’ at the tail end of 2010, following a brief and limited rookie karting campaign the same year, Sean made his car racing debut in 2011 in Protyre Formula Renault BARC and concluded the season with a best result of 13th place at Thruxton.
Going on to contest the six-round Formula Renault 2.0 UK ‘Finals Series’ in the BARC Class, he secured a quartet of fourth place results at Snetterton in Norfolk during the opening weekend before achieving his maiden car racing podium in the sixth and final round at Rockingham. In terms of the championship standings, he ended the winter series in fourth position.
For the 2012 season, more testing is planned during the coming weeks before the first race meeting of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship takes place at Snetterton in Norfolk over Easter weekend, 7th/8th April.