Sean Walkinshaw heads to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium this week in readiness for the biggest race of his, and the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN squad’s, season – the Total 24 Hours of Spa which gets underway on Saturday, 30th July.
As one of the greatest endurance racing challenges in the world, the annual spectacular at the popular Ardennes track always boasts a huge grid and this year’s instalment, round four of the Blancpain Endurance Cup, is no exception with close to 70 cars set to line-up on the grid.
Chipping Norton based Sean, who was actually born in Brussels, has always relished the prospect of competing at Spa and for his second appearance in the 24 Hour race he is aiming for a season-best performance aboard the No.22 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
Partnered by regular Blancpain Endurance Cup team-mates Matt Simmons and Romain Sarazin, Sean’s Sprint Cup team-mate Ricardo Sánchez also forms part of the four driver line-up for the weekend’s contest.
“It’s fantastic to be going back to Spa, the 24 Hours is such an incredible event and there’s always an amazing atmosphere at the track and in the town during the build-up”, said Sean, “Spa is one of the tracks on the calendar which should best suit the Nissan, so we’re going there looking to try and get back in the Pro-Am points.”
It’s no secret the 2016 season hasn’t been the most straightforward thus far for the NISMO Athlete and the Nissan GT Academy team, the best result to date in the Endurance Cup coming in round two at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit with seventh place in Pro-Am.
Last time out at Paul Ricard in France, hopes of mounting a challenge for a second points finish of the year came unstuck early on when contact from a rival car resulted in a puncture and additional damage to the Nissan.
Due to the significant loss of time in the pits, the focus turned to using the remainder of the six-hour race as an extended test session in readiness for this weekend’s visit to Spa – the late evening aspect of the latter stages of the Paul Ricard encounter providing some key night-time running.
“What happened at Paul Ricard was a major disappointment for everyone, but the team did a great job to get the car repaired as quickly as they did and we showed good pace”, Sean added, “As well as good performance, consistency is so important so hopefully we’ll be there at the finish at Spa!”
Track action at Spa gets underway as early as tomorrow, Tuesday, 26th July, with the opening Bronze test ahead of the off-track parade of race cars, and driver autograph session, in Spa town centre on Wednesday, 27th July. Further practice sessions and qualifying takes place on Thursday, 28th July, with the final Superpole session for the fastest 20 cars following on Friday, 29th July.
On Saturday, 30th July, the Total 24 Hours of Spa will commence at 16.30 (local time) and will be streamed live online at http://www.24hoursofspa.com/live
Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Driver Standings (after Rd3):
18th Sean Walkinshaw/Matt Simmons/Romain Sarazin, 6pts
Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Team Standings (after Rd3):
12th Nissan GT Academy Team RJN, 6pts