Chipping Norton racing driver Sean Walkinshaw rounded-out the first weekend of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season at Snetterton 200 Circuit today, Sunday, 8th April, with a hat-trick of points finishes – his best result of 13th place, from 25 competitors, coming in race two.
In terms of the weather, the 18-year-old MTECH Lite driver faced a stern test with little experience in the wet but he did a sterling job throughout the rain-impacted weekend to avoid any major incidents and conclude the season-opening event tied for 17th place in the championship standings.
Sean’s highlight performance was undoubtedly in this morning’s dry second round, a terrific drive through the order into the upper midfield from a lower than expected 23rd on the grid – the latter a result of a difficult wet qualifying session on Saturday, 7th April.
Getting away from the line well at the beginning of round two, the Cheltenham College student produced a tremendous pass on the inside at the second corner, Montreal Hairpin, to gain five positions in one move and climb into 18th place.
Gaining another spot on the second tour, he then progressed into the top 14 over the next couple of laps prior to the appearance of the Safety Car on lap five. When racing resumed on lap 10, Sean held station before moving into 13th position following an excursion for Jake Dalton. Challenging Martin Cao and Raoul Owens during the final few laps, he eventually settled for his hard-earned 13th place.
“I was pleased with my dry performance”, said Sean, “There was quite a bit of overtaking and my pace was quite good, in the Friday practice sessions we set some good times so it was a shame the qualifying and racing was mainly in the wet!
“I think I did make huge steps forward in the wet but I know I’ve still got a long way to go where that’s concerned. It could have been a better first weekend of the season but it could have been a lot worse too. We scored in every race so, overall, I’m pleased but I am aiming for the next round at Rockingham to be better.”
In the damp opening round on Saturday afternoon, the Oxfordshire teenager made steady progress from 22nd on the grid and by lap five he was into the points paying positions in 19th place. Gaining more confidence with each lap, he chipped away at his times and made his way into 17th position before the finish on lap 15.
Round three was the most badly affected by surface water due to a fair amount of rainfall prior to the race, leading to another incredibly difficult challenge for the MTECH driver. Even so, he managed to break into the points once again to finish in 20th place.
Sean now has a six-week break from competition with the next event of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, rounds four and five, set to take place over the weekend 19th/20th May at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.
Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd3):
=17th Sean Walkinshaw & Henrique Baptista, 13pts