Frustration gazumps Sean's career-best work
THERE was frustration for Sean Walkinshaw after a career-best qualifying round at Thruxton.
The Cheltenham College student rued what might have been when two incident-filled Protyre Formula Renault BARC races compromised his chances of two career-best finishes.
Lapping with excellent pace from the off during the brief 15-minute practice session, the MTECH Lite driver was in the form of his career at the fastest circuit on the calendar with an outstanding sixth-fastest time in qualifying thanks to a lap of one minutes 13.517 seconds (115.36mph).
Securing a third-row start for round six of the season, the 18-year-old brother of Gloucester Rugby's co-owner and executive chairman Ryan was an even better fourth on the grid for round seven, underlining his excellent consistency with a second quickest time of 1.13.689 (115.09mph).
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Far and away Walkinshaw's most competitive performance so far, confidence was high for similarly strong race performances and in the first encounter he was set for an almost-certain top-eight finish when an unfortunate flirtation with the kerbs on lap eight resulted in a spin – dropping him down to 20th place.
Determined to salvage what he could from the race, Walkinshaw fought his way back into the top 15 before the finish.
His best lap of 1.14.423, was within 0.1 seconds of a top-four pace.
Starting round seven from a career-best fourth on the grid, Walkinshaw made an excellent getaway to climb into the podium placings, but through the ultra-fast right-hander at Goodwood he ran slightly wide with the resulting lack of grip costing him several places.
Even so, he still ran in a highly-competitive seventh position at the end of the first tour and maintained the place ahead of the appearance of the safety car on lap three.
At the restart on lap nine, Walkinshaw held station but contact from behind four laps from the finish relegated him to an eventual finish of 17th place.
He said: "Qualifying was great, it went really well and I was really pleased with the time we managed.
"Unfortunately the races didn't go so well, which was really disappointing as we had good pace this weekend.
"I proved I can be quick in qualifying and we had good pace in the races too, so I know the results will come.
"In race two I was up to third on the first lap and I tried to do Goodwood flat, but the tyres were still quite cold and I ran a bit wide which put me down to sixth or seventh.
"Then someone nudged me at the complex quite late on, so we dropped down the order.
"It's unfortunate but we have a lot of positives to take away to the next round."
Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire is next on the calendar with rounds eight and nine of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season set to take place on July 21-22.
Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after round seven): =17th Sean Walkinshaw and Chris Middlehurst, 37pts.