Sean Walkinshaw produced a star performance in the annual Gulf 12 Hours at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, 15th December, with an outstanding third place finish for the Attempto Racing Audi squad – mere days after confirming his entry in the ultra-competitive Middle East event.
Marking the 25-year-old’s maiden experience at the wheel of an Audi R8 GT3, as well as his first ever outing with the German team, Walkinshaw impressed throughout the 12 hour contest to celebrate a fabulous outright and GT3 Pro class podium with Giorgio Roda and Clemens Schmid.
Ending the race – which was contested over two six-hour parts with a break of a couple of hours in between – less than 90 seconds shy of second position, Chipping Norton racer Walkinshaw and his Attempto team-mates had the potential for more but contact during the seventh hour led to a luckless spin.
Undeterred, the trio produced outstanding pace and went on to claim an excellent result to put the icing on the cake of a particularly impressive year for Walkinshaw – one in which he became GT300 Vice-Champion in the Far East’s Super GT Championship just last month.
“I’m really happy with the podium, especially considering it was my first time out in the Audi”, said an elated Walkinshaw, “The car took a bit of getting used to but during the race I was finally able to get to grips with it. Overall the race went pretty swimmingly compared to our rivals but we were spun around in the first hour of the second part of the race, which did cost us a lot of time.
“I’m really happy to end the year on the podium and I’d like to say a big thank you to my team-mates Giorgio and Clemens. Also, a huge thank you to all the guys at Attempto Racing for putting together a great car and delivering a faultless race.”
Following several practice runs on Friday, 14th December, qualifying then took place across three sessions with the grid determined by the combined average. Walkinshaw ran in session one, setting the eighth fastest time overall and fifth in GT3 Pro. Roda was 18th overall in session two, seventh in class, while Schmid was sixth quickest and third in class in session three.
Schmid started the race in the No.44 Audi from 10th on the grid and through the various driver cycles the team made strong progress. Climbing up the order to end the first six hours inside the top five overall, the squad was also fifth in GT3 Pro as the first chequered flag flew.
Following a couple of hours of down-time, the second portion of the race started as the floodlights came on at Yas Marina and sunset arrived. Walkinshaw took the first stint and all looked to be running like clockwork until contact from another car tipped the Attempto machine into a spin.
Although frustrating, Walkinshaw took the incident in his stride and set about undoing the damage as quickly as possible. Despite the significant loss of time, the Oxfordshire racer recovered well and over the course of the remainder of the race the Audi charged through.
Ultimately securing a tremendous top three finish overall, and third in class, Walkinshaw brought the No.44 car home to the chequered flag to spark giddy celebrations from the Attempto Racing crew after a fantastically well-deserved podium result.