Battling Rockingham drives earn Walkinshaw more points

Published: 21 May 2012
Sean Walkinshaw
Sean Walkinshaw

Pictured: Sean Walkinshaw

Sean Walkinshaw delivered two strong race drives at Rockingham in Northamptonshire on Sunday, 20th May, to secure a brace of points-scoring results in rounds four and five of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship.

Although compromised by front wing damage in the opening encounter, the 18-year-old MTECH Lite driver still managed to secure a 19th place finish from 28 competitors. Better was to come though in the second race when he stormed through the field from 26th on the grid into a fine top 16 result.

Qualifying, as at Snetterton during the season-opener last month, was affected by rain but the bigger problem for competitors came in the form of red flag stoppages – four separate incidents in the opening session making it impossible to get a clear, consistent run. Even so, Sean posted a best lap of 1m1m48.788 (64.19mph) seconds to claim a spot on the 10th row of the grid for round four.

Despite slipping outside the top 20 on the opening lap of the first encounter, the Chipping Norton racer knew he was capable of making progress and moved back into the points positions before sustaining damage to his front-wing after running over debris.

Dropping to the tail of the field, he battled back impressively after a brief Safety Car period which was put in place to enable the removal of the bodywork on track. Gaining six positions, he eventually finished in 19th place and his best lap of 1m19.691 seconds was within 0.4 seconds of top 10 pace.

Starting a lower-than-expected 26th on the grid for round five, a more straightforward race gave the Oxfordshire driver a better chance to prove his pace and he did just that with a best lap of 1m19.540 seconds, which matched several top 10 runners.

Making-up five places on the opening lap alone, Sean hovered on the edge of the top 20 for a couple of laps before working his way into the points on lap four and then gaining two further positions on the very next tour.

With three laps remaining, the Cheltenham College student was in 17th and piling on the pressure to Matt Tiffin ahead. He couldn’t quite find a way by the JWA-Avila driver but both of them profited from a retirement for Jack Dex on lap 14, so Sean finished a highly creditable 16th.

“Qualifying wasn’t what we wanted, wet again like at Snetterton, but the first race was alright until I hit some debris which destroyed half of my front wing”, said Sean, “Considering the damage, I was pretty happy with my lap times and to pick-up any points at all – we went from last to 19th so that was good.

“I was hoping for a Safety Car really in the second race to help us close up. We took a bit of a gamble with the wing choice and by the end of the race the tyres were pretty messed-up. I still made it into 16th from 26th on the grid though, so that’s not bad going.”

Now returning to his all-important A-level exams, Sean’s next race action will come in four weeks on Sunday, 17th June, at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire for rounds six and seven of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season. In the meantime, he will sit two exams this week, three more before the Thruxton event and then another exam straight after the race meeting itself.

Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd5):

19th Sean Walkinshaw, 25pts