Image credit: JRM Group.
Sportscar racing newcomer Sean Walkinshaw is relishing the prospect of his first race outing at the wheel of MRS GT-Racing’s Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 when the eagerly awaited 2015 Blancpain Sprint Series gets underway this coming weekend, 4th/5th/6th April, at Nogaro in France.
Embarking on the most exciting and high-profile chapter of his motorsport career to date, Chipping Norton-based Sean has hardly been able to contain his excitement in recent weeks as his Blancpain debut has edged ever closer.
Sharing driving duties at MRS GT-Racing with compatriot Craig Dolby in the Pro Class, the 21-year-old has his sights set on a strong start to his 2015 campaign which also includes a full programme with the Nissan in the sister Blancpain Endurance Series.
While focused on this coming weekend’s action, Sean also wishes to reflect on the tragic incident involving fellow Nissan racer Jann Mardenborough on Saturday, during a VLN endurance race at the Nurburgring-Nordschleife in Germany, which very sadly claimed the life of a spectator.
“I’m really looking forward to getting my season underway at Nogaro but, first and foremost, I want to send my sincerest thoughts and prayers to all of those involved in the accident at the VLN race on Saturday”, said Sean, “It was an incredibly tragic incident and unbelievably distressing for those who were involved, their families and friends. Words aren’t really sufficient to be honest.”
He added: “As far as my preparations for Blancpain have been going, everything has been great. The car is quick and I think we should be in pretty good form at Nogaro. I’ve had four days in the car up to now, the two official test days at [Paul] Ricard and then two more days at Nogaro. I’ve had to work on a different driving style but my team-mate Craig has been really helping me along.
“There are obviously quite a few changes for me to get used to this year, sharing the time in the car with your team-mate and getting used to longer runs. Having said that, though, the Nogaro races are an hour each so that will only mean 30-minute stints. It should be a great season, I can’t wait.”
During the recent officially timed test days at Paul Ricard in France, which brought together Blancpain Sprint Series and Endurance Series competitors, Sean and team-mate Dolby were joined by their Endurance Series partner Martin Plowman, the LMP2 Class winner in the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours and that year’s FIA World Endurance Champion in LMP2.
Lapping an impressive seventh fastest on day one, within 0.6 seconds of the outright pace, on day two the No.14 Nissan broke into the top five with a best time less than half a second shy of the top of the timesheets.
Following free practice and qualifying at Nogaro on Saturday, 4th April, the Qualification Race will begin at 14.15 (local time) on Easter Sunday, 5th April, with the Main Race scheduled to take place on Easter Monday, 6th April, at 13.10 (local time). Live online streaming of all of the action will be available to watch at http://www.blancpain-gt-series.com/sprint/live