British duo Craig Dolby and Sean Walkinshaw showed their mettle at the latest round of the Blancpain Sprint Series in Portimao this weekend as they reached Q3 and qualified sixth on the grid before going on to claim some valuable championship points in the main race.
The JRM drivers were run by Always Evolving Motorsport – with operator support from AIM Autosport – for the first time in Portugal and the new collaboration between the teams got off to a strong start when Dolby and Walkinshaw qualified the NEW Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in sixth place.
However, a short way into the qualifying race, Dolby was forced to pit with gear selection difficulties. The crew got the car back out on track within seconds, but the time lost entering and exiting the pits put the JRM pairing a lap down in 14th place.
It was cruel luck, but the disappointment didn’t stop Craig and Sean pushing to underline what the NEW Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 is capable of during the remainder of the race.
After Craig returned to the action, he was one of the fastest cars on track and fastest overall on a number of laps. And it was a similar story for Sean during his stint. The 21-year-old recorded the car’s fastest time through the second sector and was the fastest man on the track in the closing stages of the race.
Sean’s great form continued into Sunday’s main race when he showed some sublime race craft and fighting spirit to haul the NEW Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 from P14 to P9, passing the WRT Audi (above) and other front-running cars in the process.
It was then Craig’s turn to take the wheel and he joined the action just after the Safety Car was deployed. That bunched the field up tightly and his chances of making further progress up the leaderboard were compromised – although he did manage to secure a welcome P8.
Craig, JRM’s PRO Driver and Coach, said: “It was a great recovery drive from Sean and I after the disappointment of the qualifying race. The Safety Car didn’t do us any favours because it bunched the field right up and everyone was battling hard.
“I didn’t feel like I quite got the pace out of the car that I wanted, but there are lots of positives that we can take away. We were effectively a new team in Portimao but we’ve taken a big step in the right direction and we’re continuing to score points when it’s possible. I’m feeling positive about the remaining Blancpain rounds.”
Walkinshaw (below) shared his team-mate’s positivity. The youngster is competing as part of JRM’s Race Driver Development Programme this season and 2015 marks his first season in the GT3 category. But, with the support of Craig as his mentor, Sean is already mixing it with the best drivers that the series has to offer.
He said: “We knew the main race would be challenging but I battled hard to get us up to eighth place and I’m sure it was only the Safety Car intervention that stopped us climbing even higher.I think we can be pleased with some good solid points considering where we were after the qualifying race.”
James Walters, JRM Partnership Manager, said: “The way Sean and Craig bounced back today shows the strides they are both making as a partnership in our Race Driver Development Programme.
“They’re working fantastically well together and striving for success in equal measure. That’s great to see and really bodes well for the remainder of the Blancpain season.
Walters also thought JRM’s new collaboration with Always Evolving Motorsport brought some new energy to the team’s Portimao effort.
He said: “The Always Evolving guys are doing great things with the 2014-spec Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in the Pirelli World Challenge so we’re pleased that they wanted to expand their already successful programme into Europe with us. We saw lots of positives in Portugal and I’m sure we can look forward to more success together during the remaining Blancpain rounds.”
Erik Davis, Always Evolving Motorsport owner, said: “Always Evolving Motorsport is proud to be working with JRM and our partners at AIM Autosport as it relates to this Blancpain effort. Deepening our ties with this group is important.
“We have had great success in Pirelli World Challenge, which is a sprint race format. And going into Blancpain with the lessons learned in our US programme will allow us to make great strides quickly in this series. I’ve been watching Blancpain for some time now as I think it’s some of the greatest GT racing in the world.
“AE will bring our signature media components, lifestyle brand and loyal fan base to the series and we are looking forward to the next few races and expanding our motorsport brand internationally.”
Source. JRM Group/Photo. JRM / Vision Sport Agency
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