Race ace Sean is on song in Italy
EUROPEAN Formula 3 Open racer Sean Walkinshaw secured the fourth Copa class points finish of his rookie season at Monza in Italy, following a fantastic drive through the order in the second of the action-packed races.
Beginning round 14 from ninth in class and 28th on the outright grid after a troublesome qualifying period where missing out on a crucial 'tow' from other cars proved costly, the Gloucester Rugby-backed driver delivered an impressive race performance to climb through into fourth in the Copa, 13th overall.
Rain ahead of the start of the race led organisers to begin proceedings from behind the safety car and the precipitation also resulted in some drivers choosing to pit in order to switch from slick tyres to treaded, wet-weather Dunlops.
As it turned out, the rain didn't materialise as some expected, meaning Walkinshaw was able to profit from the wrong decisions of some of his rivals.
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When racing proper got under way, after climbing into sixth in the Copa early on he made quick progress and by lap five the former Cheltenham College student was into the class top four. While holding position in the Copa, the Team West-Tec driver continued to move up the overall order as the race passed mid-distance and he broke into the outright top 12.
Despite being edged back to 13th overall three laps from the finish by one of the faster Dallara F312 cars, Walkinshaw ended the race 50 seconds clear of his closest Copa pursuer.
The race two result came as a welcome boost for the 19-year-old after a points challenge in round 13 went begging following contact to the rear of his Dallara F308 on lap 12 at the Roggia chicane.
Starting the race from 10th in the Copa class after a gamble on wet-weather set-up in qualifying didn't work in his favour.
Walkinshaw made a clean launch and climbed into eighth position before leaping into fourth just a lap later as several rivals came to grief in the hectic early exchanges.
Over the next few laps, he was nudged back down to seventh in class, but following a tight battle with Che One Lim and Tommaso Menchini, he entered the final third of the race well in contention for a good points score.
But contact from one of the F312s pitched Walkinshaw into a spin and he eventually ended the outing a frustrated eighth in the Copa.
"It was a difficult weekend," Walkinshaw said.
"We had really good pace on Friday in practice and then we had mixed conditions for first qualifying.
"We went for more of a wet set-up than the others and just got caught out unfortunately as it dried up more quickly than we thought.
"In the first race I had a decent couple of laps at the start, we had good pace and a chance of the podium, but then I lost a huge amount of time when I was hit from behind.
"Race two went well, and we made the right tyre choice, we just started too far away from the top guys.
"Monza is an amazing track, even though I'd never been there before I was right near the top in the Copa during practice, which was really positive.
"The results weren't quite what we wanted in the end, largely because of qualifying, but I really enjoyed the weekend as whole."
Walkinshaw now has a month break from competitive action ahead of the final two rounds of the 2013 European Formula 3 Open season, which will take place over on November 9 and 10 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
Walkinshaw currently stands ninth in the provisional European Formula 3 Open Copa class standings after 14 rounds.