Fergus Walkinshaw sealed his 2012 season with an impressive charge from 10th to fifth in the final fight of the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup season at Brands Hatch, once again demonstrating his wet weather driving prowess by setting the second fastest lap of the field around the Grand Prix circuit.
The 21 year-old bounced back with one of his best results of the year after he was demoted from sixth to 10th thanks to contact from Tom Ingram on the final lap of the penultimate round on Sunday morning. That came after he was robbed of fifth at the flag in round 24, yet a mature drive with a left rear puncture still salvaged sixth on Saturday afternoon.
A welcome wet race for round 25 and Walkinshaw was clean away from grid six on Sunday morning, beating Colin White into fifth exiting Paddock Hill Bend to once again place at the forefront of the Ginetta GT Supercup field.
Just 0.2 seconds separated Walkinshaw from Ingram by the end of lap one with a similar margin spacing the top five cars pulling clear from the rest of the pack, as a race-long battle for the podium places and vital championship points unfolded. Although still glued to Ingrams bumper, Walkinshaw relinquished fifth to release championship leader Tom Sharp on lap three.
Regardless, the 2012 Brands Hatch National podium winner stayed in close contention as the four way fight for third turned into a jaw dropping five strong scrap for second by lap nine, Walkinshaw all the while within inches of Ingram.
With the group lapping some two seconds slower during their engrossed battle, Andy Richardson joined the six-car train then pushed Walkinshaw wide to take sixth on lap 11. As the front runners continued to trade places and run three wide, Ingram spun exiting Druids on lap 12 and Walkinshaw took sixth with just two laps remaining.
Tailing Jake Hill on the last tour, Walkinshaw had every chance of taking another top-six result until a rear hit from Ingram heading into Surtees sent the #91 car into a spin from which he could only recover 10th place. However, not just the sixth place result was lost as, on the reverse six grid for round 26, Walkinshaw was set to start from pole position.
Fired up for the final fight of the season, the Chipping Norton racer got a solid start and spent much of the first two laps challenging Marcus Hoggarth until the #95 car locked-up at Surtees. His sights set on Century Motorsport teammate Hunter Abbott some two seconds up the track, Walkinshaw chipped away at Abbotts advantage and was within challenging distance when the #26 car ran wide into the gravel at Druids. With Jake Hill out of the running the same lap, Walkinshaw kept his cool to drive through to fifth.
Clearly at home in the wet weather conditions, Walkinshaw set consecutive personal best lap times on his mission to catch his next target, fourth placed Richardson 2.3 seconds ahead. Slicing the deficit at an impressive rate of over half a second a lap, the flying Scot came to within 0.4 seconds of the Richardson Racing driver by the time the chequered flag fell on the shortened 12 lap showdown.
Thats a far more enjoyable way to end the season, Im really pleased with that fifth place result, said Walkinshaw. It goes a little way to making up for this mornings result. I was really annoyed at being hit off by Tom [Ingram] as I would have been on for three top-six finishes this weekend. It was a real shame.
The conditions this afternoon were awful and visibility near-on impossible. There were cars going off all over the place, but I just kept it together. I love racing in the wet and the car felt great, I just wish the race had run to the full 14 laps as Im sure I could have taken Andy [Richardson].
It hasnt been an easy season, but Id like to thank Nathan Freke and the entire Century Motorsport team for all their efforts this year.