Two long months since the prestigious Super GT Championship was last in action at Autopolis in Japan, the world-renowned endurance racing category resumes at Sportsland Sugo this coming weekend, 22nd/23rd July, where British driver Sean Walkinshaw will be eyeing more silverware.
Starring last time out with his maiden GT300 class podium during the third race of the eight-round season, the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri rookie – who is partnered by experienced racer Shinichi Takagi – is relishing the long-awaited return to action and the challenge of yet another new circuit.
Refreshed and revitalised ahead of round four, but with the Autopolis podium still very much at the forefront of his mind, Walkinshaw aims to hit the ground running at Sugo a few days from now and continue the front-running momentum which has been building throughout the first three events.
“It’s been a long time since Autopolis so I can’t wait to be back in the car at the weekend”, said BMW M6 racer Walkinshaw, “We had a fantastic result there and now we’ve got the first podium, Shinichi and I are determined to push for more. It’s amazing to be racing in Super GT with the ARTA guys, they’re doing an incredible job and I really am looking forward to seeing what we can do in Sugo.”
Walkinshaw and Takagi will arrive in Sugo, which is situated in Murata in the Miyagi Prefecture and is the most northerly of the venues to be visited in Japan, fifth in the GT300 championship standings and just 10 points shy of the top three.
Debuting in Super GT with a fantastic top five finish at Okayama in April, a podium challenge was then on the cards in only Walkinshaw’s second race meeting in the prestigious championship at Fuji Speedway – until, that is, an unfortunate penalty linked to a pit-stop violation led to 17th place.
Moving on to Autopolis, a top four qualifying performance from Takagi paved the way for the duo to challenge for a potential maiden victory and although edged back to third place, after contact from another car, the result marked a major and richly deserved breakthrough.
“Our race pace has been very strong all season, it’s definitely our main strength, and we’ve been consistent too”, said Walkinshaw, “To be fifth in the championship after three rounds is a good position to be in, especially as we have had some bad luck. Sugo is obviously another new track for me but I’m sure we’ll be up to speed pretty quickly and hopefully challenging for another podium.”
Qualifying for the fourth round of the Super GT Championship at Sportsland Sugo will take place on Saturday, 22nd July, with the 300km race following on Sunday, 23rd July.
2017 Super GT – GT300 Driver Standings (after Rd3)
5th Sean Walkinshaw & Shinichi Takagi, 17pts
2017 Super GT – GT300 Team Standings (after Rd3)
6th Autobacs Racing Team Aguri, 24pts
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. Autobacs Racing Team Aguri