Sean Walkinshaw produced by far the best result of his Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship career at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on Sunday, 22nd July, by securing a hard fought eighth place result in the first of the weekend’s two races.
One week on from a top eight finish on his InterSteps Championship debut at Snetterton in Norfolk, the Chipping Norton racer continued his strong progress on his return to Formula Renault machinery and in doing so climbed into 16th place in the driver standings – just four points shy of 13th position.
Posting a highly impressive seventh fastest time in the 15-minute practice on Saturday, 21st July, Sean replicated the performance in the round eight qualifying run with a lap of 1m21.948 seconds (93.35mph). Although disappointed to have been baulked on his quickest laps, which he believed cost him a top three start at the very least, he was still just 0.4 seconds shy of the front row.
In terms of pace, the round nine session looked set to deliver a similarly strong outcome but a freak accident at the exit of the chicane during the final five minutes, in which his car was pitched into a barrel roll and came to rest upside down, prevented that. Thankfully, he walked away unharmed.
Following superb repair work overnight by the MTECH Lite squad, the 18-year-old was determined to make his fourth row start for round eight count. Holding seventh early on, he then profited from contact between Seb Morris and Macaulay Walsh at the complex on lap three to move into fifth.
Although slipping to sixth the next time around at the complex, Sean pressed on but significant tyre degradation started to badly compromise his pace. Defending superbly, he did a fantastic job to fend off the chasing pack but ultimately had to settle for a nonetheless impressive eighth place.
“I didn’t get away that well off the line really and then, three or four laps in, the tyres really started to go and I had cars all over me”, he explained, “I had to spend most of my time defending so, taking that into account, eighth was a good result and shows we’re improving.”
Despite his sizeable accident in the round nine qualifying session, Sean had still managed to post the ninth fastest time for the race two grid. Edged back to 10th place off the line by Morris, Sean set about tailing the former championship leader but he was then the victim of two very robust passing attempts in quick succession at the Sunny In right-hander.
Then, at Tower on lap three, Sean’s car was tagged from behind under braking and he was pitched into a spin which led to a damaged front wing and nose cone. He did manage to recover to the track and, after a visit to the pits, Sean set about trying to salvage a few points which he managed to do with 18th position.
“Going into Sunny In on lap one, I had no option but to let another car go by otherwise we would’ve crashed”, he explained, “Then the exact same thing happened again a lap later and at Tower on lap three I was just hit up the back which spun me round, then another car wiped out my front wing. It’s really frustrating but we’ve had good pace here which is encouraging, I’m happy with that.”
Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC season will take place four weeks from now on 18th/19th August at Donington Park in Leicestershire. Before then, Sean will be back in action in the InterSteps Championship next weekend, 28th/29th July, at Thruxton in Hampshire.
“I’m looking forward to Thruxton, it should be good”, said Sean, “I went well there in the Renault and I think we should go well again in the InterSteps car. It should be straightforward enough to adapt back and at a track like Thruxton I’m confident we can do a good job and be up to speed pretty quickly.”