Fergus Walkinshaw bagged his FW Motorsport team’s second top seven Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup finish in round nine at Thruxton today, sealing a solid weekend of points paying results as the fledgling team continues its solid learning curve and development of the 2014 Ginetta G55.
The fledgling FW Motorsport crew was afforded no testing time at the fastest track on the BTCC calendar prior to this weekend’s triple header rounds, following Walkinshaw’s 15 day ground-up build of his 2014 Ginetta G55 ahead of the opening season Brands Hatch rounds. Tackling each track session as a test platform, Walkinshaw qualified 11th while battling with understeer.
Round seven passed without incident under bright, clear skies at the Hampshire circuit, Walkinshaw joining the tail end of the battle for eighth, closing to within 0.8 seconds of Luke Davenport at the end of the 11-lap sprint race to take valuable points for 11th place.
Round eight on Saturday afternoon was a more closely fought affair, a strong start helping Walkinshaw to retain 11th and hunt down Jamie Orton until lap three and Davenport thereafter. Despite experiencing front left tyre-wear, Walkinshaw lapped consistently quicker than Davenport and finally found a way through on lap 15 to claim a top 10 finish.
With massive improvements and developments gained with the brand new car’s balance, set-up and tyres, everything came together for the Chipping Norton based team in race three. A strong start immediately put Walkinshaw in the mix and up to ninth before Pepe Massot managed to find a way past on lap two.
Building pace with every lap, Walkinshaw soon joined the battle for fifth headed by Charlie Robertson. Past Davenport through Church on lap eight, Walkinshaw closed in and passed Massot out of the Complex on lap 11 and climbed to seventh as Robertson dropped down the order.
Reeling in Orton’s two second advantage in a single lap, Walkinshaw joined 2013 Champion Carl Breeze and Tom Oliphant in the fight for fifth on the penultimate tour. In a crowd thrilling battle that went down to the last Chicane, Walkinshaw kept his cool, despite a determined last-attempt pass from Will Burns, to take his second top seven finished of the year.
Walkinshaw commented: “I’m really pleased with the team’s progress this weekend. We know we are on the back foot this year, the late car build means we’re testing and developing the car with every track session, but two top seven finishes in two events really shows we’re making progress.
“We’ve made massive gains in a lot of key areas at Donington Park and Thruxton. We also learned some valuable lessons about the new tyre in race two, which we turned to our advantage in race three. We set-up the car to ensure the tyres came in during the latter race stages, it really paid off and was a lot of fun.”
Although Walkinshaw’s Thruxton efforts still see him 14th in the title fight, with just three points separating him from 11th place there’s everything to play for at Oulton Park in June.