Sean Walkinshaw was justifiably delighted with his endurance racing debut after finishing third in class during the annual Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Despite feeling unwell, Walkinshaw made a big impression at the wheel of the No. 88 Ferrari 458 Italia, which he shared with Dragon Racing team-mates Jordan Grogor and Mohammed Jawa, to take a Pro-Am class podium on his maiden weekend in sportscar racing.
The Chipping Norton driver said: “It’s been amazing, everyone at Dragon Racing did a great job and Mohammed and Jordan did really well. It’s so nice to get on the podium in my first ever endurance race, hopefully the performance we delivered this weekend will help to open up a few more options for us for next year.”
Notably, the weekend marked the welcome return of the famous Walkinshaw name to endurance based sportscar competition following the 21-year-old’s switch from single-seater racing to GT action which sees him follow the same path trodden by his late father, Tom Walkinshaw,in the 1970s.
Walkinshaw quickly got to grips with the Ferrari and the circuit and the team ultimately qualified 12th fastest overall and seventh in class for the first of the two six hour contests – the Gulf 12 Hours split into two races, one in the daylight and one at night.
In the opener, Walkinshaw climbed from ninth overall into seventh at the chequered flag, fourth in the Pro-Am scrap.
The second six hour race took place under the Yas Marina floodlights following a three hour interval, and went similarly well for the Dragon Racing trio as they managed to complete the combined 12 hours in the Pro-Am top four before profiting from a penalty for a rival team to take third spot.
Walkinshaw added: “With half an hour to go we were quite comfortably going to get the podium, then we had the first Safety Car of the entire race.
“That looked to have ruined it, we got overtaken at the re-start but then Jordan [Grogor] managed to get back up to fourth in Pro-Am and then the time penalty for the Mercedes guys got us back on the podium.
“The first six hours went pretty well. The main challenge for me was getting used to the high fuel loads in the car, it’s something new to me coming from single-seaters in F3 but it all went okay.
“Overall, it’s been a fantastic weekend and I really enjoyed it.”