Motegi in Japan plays host to the decisive final race of an outstanding Super GT Championship season next weekend, 10th/11th November, where British ace Sean Walkinshaw will be just one step away from securing his first title victory in motorsport.
Wrapping-up what has been a superb year of action in the Far East for the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri driver, round eight of the campaign is all that now stands between the Oxfordshire racer and a richly deserved championship win in the ultra-competitive GT300 class.
Joined by vastly experienced team-mate Shinichi Takagi, the ARTA pairing head into the season finale with a 12 point lead at the top of the standings having increased their advantage by an extra five points during the previous event at Autopolis.
Impressing last time out with an unlikely top four finish from 22nd on the grid, after qualifying had been impacted by a red flag interruption, the BMW M6 GT3 drivers will carry strong confidence into Motegi – even though it isn’t one of the tracks most suited to their car.
Walkinshaw, who will celebrate his 25th birthday tomorrow, Saturday, 3rd November, says while having the championship lead is obviously a great starting point for the season finale, he and Takagi, and the entire team, are taking nothing for granted.
“We’re in a good position going to Motegi, you’d always rather be leading the championship than trying to come from behind, but absolutely anything can happen so we’re going into the weekend with the same approach we always have”, said Walkinshaw
“Motegi isn’t the best track for our car, but we’ll be giving it everything and I know the ARTA guys will do a great job as they always do. Shinichi-san and I will be trying as hard as we can, we’ve had a fantastic season and even with some misfortune along the way we’ve been quick and consistent. It all comes down to next weekend, hopefully we can get the job done!”
Beginning the season with a top six result at Okayama in Japan, at Fuji Speedway next time out Walkinshaw and Takagi secured a dominant victory to move to the top of the GT300 championship and they retained the points lead at Suzuka in round three despite a tough weekend.
Robbed of their second podium of 2018 in round four at Buriram in Thailand following a late race puncture, the ARTA duo slipped to fourth in the standings but duly leapt back into the championship lead on the return to Fuji for round five where they dominated again to chalk up win number two.
In round six at Sportsland Sugo the duo took a welcome top 10 finish from 23rd on the grid, despite being handicapped with 100kg of ‘success ballast’, before then racing to fourth place at Autopolis three weeks ago.
Now, everything comes down to the final race of the season at Motegi with practice and qualifying taking place next Saturday, 10th November, ahead of round eight of the Super GT Championship on Sunday, 11th November.
2018 Super GT Championship – GT300 Driver Standings:
1st Sean Walkinshaw & Shinichi Takagi, 60pts
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. Autobacs Racing Team Aguri