Walsh makes wet and wild Spa debut

ASH Walsh has endured a difficult weekend in his maiden race meeting at the famous Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

Walsh, from Ipswich in Queensland and driving with the support of the Australian Motorsport Foundation, finished 17th and 18th in the two West European Cup races, held in typically variable and soaking wet Spa conditions.

The weekend also saw Walsh have his first “big” crash in European motorsport, when he lost control of his Formula Renault car in top gear in wet conditions. He emerged from the crash with no problems.

Qualifying was where Walsh’s problems first started, with all of the Hitech Junior cars struggling for pace in both sessions. The first session was held in half wet, half dry conditions, while the second session was completely wet.

The racing was also the same. Race 1 was dry, where Walsh took 17th, before an extremely wet Race 2. Walsh actually reported that he thought the race was going to be called off, due to the heavy downpour that hit the circuit. On a number of occasions, Walsh could not see anything, but he drove sensibly to bring the car home in one piece. Other drivers weren’t so fortunate, with one of his rivals breaking two vertebrae at the daunting Eau Rogue corner.

Roberto Merhi and Australian Daniel Riccardo were the winners in the two races.

The penultimate round of the championship will be held this coming weekend at Magny Cours in France.

ASH ON HIS WEEKEND:“I’m really disappointed with that,” he said.“It wasn’t a very good weekend at all. It was shocking.“I had a big shunt on Friday. I was in sixth gear in the wet looking to pass a car in front of me. I’d gone through the corner flat out before, but I touched the painted white line on the track and spun. I did a lot of damage to the car.“The Hitech team turned the car around and got it back out there, which was a good effort.”

ASH ON RACE 2:“I thought they should have called it off – I was actually looking for the red flags.“One of the cars went in so hard at Eau Rogue. It was a very big accident.“Only two times in the race was I flat out. At that track in the dry, you are flat out most of the time! It was really, really dangerous.

ASH ON SPA FRANCORCHAMPS:“It’s not good to do any track in the rain.

“Race 1 was in the dry and its quite was good, quite fast track. I didn’t really get quite as good a feeling from it because of the rain but I’m sure I’ll be back in the future.”

ASH WALSH DETAILS:

Name : Ashley WalshDate of Birth : 11 January 1988Born: Ipswich (Queensland), Australia

Walsh is driving in his first season in the West European Cup. This is a new championship, borne out of the old French Formula Renault Championship. Over 40 cars are entered in each round, with drivers coming from all corners of the globe to compete.Walsh drives for Hitech Junior – its first year in Formula Renault competition. Walsh has four team-mates – one each from Wales, England, Spain and Columbia.Walsh is a graduate of the CAMS Rising Star program, and is competing as an inaugural AMSF International Rising Star this year. He races with the support of the Australian Motor Sports Foundation and its associate backers.

2008 RESULTS:

Round 1, Nogaro, FranceQ1: 17thQ2: 19thR1: 12thR2: 17th

Round 2, Dijon, FranceQ1: 21stQ2: 20th R1: 18th R2: 15th

Round 3, Valencia, Spain Q1: 25thQ2: 20th R1: 20th R2: 20th

Round 4, Le Mans, France Q: 21st R: 7th

Round 5, Estoril, Portugal Q1: 12th Q2: 9th R1: 15thR2: 7th

Round 6, Spa, Belgium Q1: 22nd Q2: 25th R1: 17thR2: 18th

2007: Second in the Australian Formula Ford Championship2006: Third in the Australian Formula Ford Championship2005: Formula Ford debut2004: Australian CIK Inter Continental A Karting Champion2003: Australian Junior Clubman and Piston Port Karting Champion


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