Fergus Walkinshaw recorded his FW Motorsport team’s first top seven finish of the Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup season in round six at Donington Park, amid a weekend of contrasting weather conditions at the Midlands circuit.
The result came as satisfying reward for the recently turned 23 year-old, following the Chipping Norton-based team’s massive effort to build his 2014 Ginetta G55 from scratch in the 15 days prior to the first rounds of the season at Brands Hatch.
Following a day of heavy downpours at Donington Park, the third and final race of the weekend brought a welcome break in the wet weather on Sunday afternoon. Walkinshaw was one of the first of the field to change to slicks and elect a pit lane start, leaving just five cars on the starting grid.
Despite a hairy first few laps as he waited for the tyres to come in and for a dry line to establish, the strategy soon started to pay off. Mounting a mid-race charge from 10th, Walkinshaw cleared Harry Woodhead on lap nine and proceeded to pass both Andrew Watson and Charlie Robertson for seventh place the following tour.
Posting consecutive personal best lap times right up to the closing stages, Walkinshaw took the chequered flag eight seconds clear of eighth placed Dan Norris-Jones.
Walkinshaw’s round six performance topped off an otherwise challenging first full race meeting of 2014 for his FW Motorsport outfit. Qualifying 12th after a wiring loom issue cut short his session, the team owner/driver struggled with over-heating tyres as the sun shone for round four, but still managed to salvage points for 12th.
In contrast, atrociously wet conditions greeted the GT4 SuperCup field for round five on Sunday morning, where although he experienced extremely poor visibility through his completely steamed up windscreen, Walkinshaw took valuable points for 11th place.
With three points finishes helping to move him up the title table to 13th place with 21 rounds remaining, Walkinshaw’s championship campaign is finally underway.
“It’s a great to get the team’s first top seven finish after an exhausting start to the season,” said Walkinshaw. “I made the call right away to go to slicks and although that meant a pit lane start, I was hopeful it would pay off and it did.
“The first few laps were tricky but by midway I was able to climb from 10th to seventh. We obviously haven’t had much track time in the new car and there are a lot of new changes to get on top of, but all things considered we’re making good progress as we learn every race.
“The conditions were changeable this weekend and we got caught out expecting much cooler conditions for race one. I couldn’t see a thing in race two and had to play it safe, but overall we have to be happy with seventh in race three.
“FW Motorsport is giving Oxford Brookes University engineering students the opportunity to work with us at select events this year. We had Fred and Liam on board this weekend and they did a great job as they get used to the car and the pressures of racing.”
FW Motorsport will continue its 2014 campaign at Thruxton, Hampshire, on 3&4 May - the circuit where Walkinshaw took a dominant pole position by 1.5 seconds last year.