Upcoming Scottish sportscar star Fergus Walkinshaw delivered an impressive recovery charge from the back of the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup grid to finish seventh in the round 20 series showdown around his native homeland circuit of Knockhill.
The Edinburgh aces outstanding efforts came after a frustrating retirement in the second race of the weekend on Sunday morning, when a stone jammed the car in fifth gear and caused contact with Hunter Abbott.
The son of the late Scottish motorsport icon Tom Walkinshaw got a solid start from 11th spot for round 19, taking two places on the charge down to the Seat Curves to complete the opening lap ninth. Soon joining the intense six-car battle for fourth while tailing Colin White, Walkinshaw was on promising form until his gearbox began double shifting on lap three. The issue caused the #91 car to drop back and powerless to defend Abbotts advances at the Hairpin on lap four.
The Automotive Engineering student battled to work around the issue in the hope of scoring championship points. But as he entered the Hairpin on lap five the car jammed in fifth gear, leaving Walkinshaw unable to avoid contact with Abbott, forcing both cars into retirement.
Upon post-race inspection, the cause for the double-shifting gearbox pretty much summed up Walkinshaws season-long lucka single stone jammed in a one-inch square gap between the gearbox casing and the rocker. Walkinshaw commented: I dont know what the mathematical chances are of picking up a pebble in the paddock, it travelling through the engine and bell housing, coming to rest between the gearbox casing and the rocker. Its been the story of my year.
As the in-car footage and data clearly shows, the gearbox issue started from lap three. Its a shame that I hit Hunter [Abbott] but there was little I could do to avoid the incident. The Century Motorsport guys did a great job to replace the front bumper, left upright, wishbones, brake discs and pads ready for race three.
A heavy start line incident involving a stalled Tom Ingram, Mark Davies and Declan Jones saw the third and final Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup race delayed until the end of Sundays schedule. Although unsighted on the undulating Knockhill grid, Walkinshaw thankfully managed to avoid much of the aftermath, just glancing Davies as he picked his way through the multiple car incident.
With all drivers thankfully unscathed and Walkinshaw suffering only a damaged wheel and bumper, the albeit reduced field was clean away at the second attempt. Walkinshaw immediately engaged in a three-lap tussle with Marcus Hoggarth for ninth position, with the Oxfordshire racer winning-out with a decisive pass on lap three.
On a charge from the back of the grid, the talented young Scot quickly dispensed of G50 Cup contender Reece Somerfield heading across the line to start lap six before a two-lap safety car period was caused by Hoggarths stricken car.
Well away at the restart, Walkinshaw managed to keep Tom Sharp at bay until the championship leader nipped through at the final turn on lap 16. But Walkinshaw was hot on Sharps heels with a counter attack down the pit straight, regaining the place on the inside of the Seat Curves, only for Sharp to cut back once again and make a final move stick into Scotsman corner.
Free from pressure, Walkinshaw set his best race lap time of the weekend to swiftly join the tail-end of the battle for fourth, the now four-car train battling bumper-to-bumper around the 1.3-mile Scottish circuit. As the fierce battle raged, Colin White ran wide exiting the final turn on lap 22 and Walkinshaw wasted no time in diving up the inside to take seventh overall, which he held unhindered to the chequered flag.
I really wanted to get a good result on my homeland track so Im much happier with the race three result, said Walkinshaw. I really like the Knockhill circuit and although its hard on the cars its rewarding to drive. Despite suffering from understeer I had some good battles as I moved up the field from the back of the grid and Im just pleased to have posted some more championship points today.