Legendary motor racing circuit Suzuka, home of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix, will welcome Sean Walkinshaw and Shinichi Takagi as GT300 points leaders this coming weekend, 19th/20th May, when the Super GT Championship resumes for round three of the all-action campaign.
British star Walkinshaw, from Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, and Japanese team-mate Takagi shot to the top of the GT300 standings last time out at Fuji Speedway off the back of an outstanding and totally dominant first victory of 2018.
Taking the No.55 Autobacs Racing Team Aguri BMW M6 GT3 to a winning margin of close to half a minute, the Super GT duo were undoubtedly the class of the field in GT300 at Fuji but now head to Suzuka aiming to consolidate their position with the track not one which suits their car.
For that reason, Walkinshaw is hoping for rain at the weekend in Japan as inclement conditions would certainly reduce the advantage held by some GT300 rivals. Whatever happens during round three, though, the ARTA team-mates will be giving their all to try and remain on top in the driver standings following the 300km encounter.
“Fuji was very, very good for us but Suzuka isn’t suited to our car so we’re expecting quite a tough weekend to be honest”, said Walkinshaw, “I think it will be quite a struggle, and we have 40kg of success ballast so it won’t be easy. If it’s wet, though, we’ll have a better chance of a good result so we’ll all be praying for rain.
“We need to aim for decent points at Suzuka, if we can come away with some it’ll be good and probably the best we could hope for. The main aim is to get this round out of the way with the best result we can.”
Since the previous Super GT event at Fuji two weeks ago during the ‘Golden Week’ national holiday in Japan, 24-year-old Walkinshaw made his touring car race debut this past weekend at Knockhill in Scotland for his own SWR team – his first ever visit to the Fife track.
As a stand-in for Howard Fuller in the squad’s Honda Civic Type-R during the second event of the TCR UK Championship season, Walkinshaw finished fifth in race one on his front-wheel drive debut and then claimed a fantastic podium result with third in race two.
“Knockhill was good, it was great to take SWR’s first podium and the guys in the team did a fantastic job – the car was a lot of fun to drive”, he commented, “It’s been a really good few days, winning at Fuji the weekend before and then being on the podium in TCR UK. Now it’s all about Suzuka, though, and what we can do there.”
Practice and qualifying at Suzuka will take place on Saturday, 19th May, with race three of the 2018 Super GT Championship following on Sunday, 20th May.
2018 Super GT Championship – GT300 Driver Standings:
1st Sean Walkinshaw & Shinichi Takagi, 26pts
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. Autobacs Racing Team Aguri