Multiple Super GT Championship GT300 race winner Sean Walkinshaw is determined to put some more daylight between himself and his title rivals when the 2018 season resumes next weekend, 15th/16th September, at Sportsland Sugo in Japan.
Carrying a six-point lead into the ante-penultimate race meeting of the Super GT season, along with team-mate Shinichi Takagi, the BMW M6 pairing are aiming to pick up where they left off last time out at Fuji Speedway in Japan where the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri drivers eased to a superb win.
Delivering an exemplary performance during round five, the duo utterly dominated to rocket back to the top of the GT300 standings having been shuffled down to fourth position in Thailand back in July as a result of a luckless puncture while running in second position.
Hitting back in tremendous style as Super GT made its second visit of the year to Fuji last month, Walkinshaw and Takagi not only doubled their 2018 victory tally but also made a piece of history with their third consecutive Fuji win – two this year, one last season.
Heading to Sportsland Sugo on the crest of a wave, Chipping Norton-based Walkinshaw is looking forward to only his second visit to the Japanese track – his first coming during his maiden season in Super GT last year – and believes more silverware could very well be on the cards.
“Fuji was obviously an amazing weekend for us, the race went perfectly and to win was exactly the response we needed after the puncture in Thailand”, he commented, “Most importantly it’s great to be leading the championship again and, with only three races to go, it’s vital we take away as many points as we can each weekend. We’re aiming for the podium in Sugo, I think that’s a realistic goal.”
During the corresponding race meeting in 2017, the ARTA team-mates were well on course to challenge for the GT300 podium in a rain-hit encounter but contact midway through, when Takagi was at the wheel of the No.55 BMW, wrecked their hopes.
Having stormed through the order from 21st on the grid after a luckless red flag interrupted qualifying session, Takagi held third place at mid-distance and was challenging for second when he was unceremoniously barged into by a rival Lexus – resulting in a spin off the track and retirement.
With the incident occurring prior to the driver change pit-stops, Walkinshaw never got chance to experience any actual race mileage so next weekend will provide something of a relatively fresh challenge for the British driver.
“What happened at Sugo last year was pretty frustrating, Shinichi-san had done an incredible job in the first stint and the contact was definitely unnecessary”, said Walkinshaw, “It was disappointing the car had to be retired before my stint, obviously, but it just means I’m even more determined to make everything count this year and challenge as hard as we can for big points and more trophies.”
Practice and qualifying for round six of the Super GT season at Sportsland Sugo will take place on Saturday, 15th September, with the 300-kilometre race itself following on Sunday, 16th September.
2018 Super GT Championship – GT300 Driver Standings:
1st Sean Walkinshaw & Shinichi Takagi, 51pts
Source. Marc Orme/ Photo. Autobacs Racing Team Aguri