Fastest Lap Pace Delivers Another Points Result for Walkinshaw & Dolby

06 July 2015

Pictured There is now a nine week break in the Blancpain Sprint Series calendar.

Round four of the Blancpain Sprint Series at Moscow Raceway in Russia on Saturday, 4th July, proved challenging and rewarding in fairly equal measure for British team-mates Sean Walkinshaw and Craig Dolby, with the MRS GT-Racing duo taking a hard-earned championship point.

Although the eventual results of 12th position in the Qualification Race and 11th in the Main Race weren’t what the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 drivers had hoped for, their respective race pace was very impressive with Dolby going on to post the fastest lap of all in the event’s second 60-minute contest.

Frustratingly for all at MRS GT-Racing, though, the team’s overall competitiveness was impacted by the Balance of Performance regulations which at Moscow Raceway heavily compromised the potential of the No.73 Nissan.

“It was a frustrating weekend and especially as we were quite badly affected by the BOP the organisers put in place, it had a big impact on our acceleration which affected qualifying and our ability to try and overtake in the races”, said Chipping Norton-based Sean.

“The track was quite green for practice, then we didn’t really hook it up in qualifying but in the races we were strong – overtaking was the real problem. I really enjoyed racing in Moscow for the first time, it’s a different kind of track to the rest of the Sprint Series calendar and it’s just a shame we couldn’t take away some more points.”

Beginning the Qualification Race from 14th on the grid after a tough run in timed qualifying, Dolby took the opening stint but overtaking opportunities were non-existent. With the midfield pack all very tightly bunched, Dolby held position throughout the first 25 minutes before pitting to hand the car over to Sean as soon as the pit-window opened.

Joining the track in 15th place with just over 33 minutes remaining on the clock, the Briton was able to move back into 14th ahead of the No.70 Mercedes on lap 19 and after reeling in the sister No.71 GT Russian Mercedes, Sean produced a bold pass to successfully take 13th position on lap 23.

With the gap to Marco Bonanomi’s Audi yo-yoing at around three seconds during the final third of the race, no further progress looked possible but on lap 34 Sean was able to move ahead into the top 12 where he remained to the chequered flag at the 60 minute mark. While overtaking was at a premium, the pace was good with a best lap of 1m38.691 seconds a match for podium performance.

Sean took the opening stint of the Main Race, which began just a couple of hours later, and from the sixth row at the rolling start he made a good getaway. Into Turn One, though, he had to run wide off track to avoid the stricken Lamborghini of Albert von Thurn und Taxis and slipped to 15th position.

Mounting a swift fightback, the 21-year-old moved into 14th within a couple of laps and then took 13th place on lap six when his pressure on Alexey Vasilyev told. Then rapidly closing up behind the No.23 Nissan of Mark Shulzhitskiy, Sean remained tight behind the GTA Team RJN car until the pit-window opened when he instantly handed over to Dolby.

Running in 14th place after the stop, Dolby moved up into the top 12 within five laps and then managed to get ahead of Christophe Bouchut’s Mercedes on lap 27 to grab 11th position. Pulling away by six seconds during the closing stages, he also ended the encounter with the fastest lap of 1m38.246 seconds to underline what might have been possible.

With top six finisher Markus Winkelhock ineligible to score this weekend – due to the fact he contested both stints of each race himself, with team-mate Niki Mayr-Melnhof unable to compete as a result of a family emergency – MRS GT-Racing were rewarded with a single championship point.

There is now a nine week break in the Blancpain Sprint Series calendar with round five taking place on 5th/6th September at the Autodromo do Algarve, near Portimao in Portugal. In the meantime, Sean and MRS GT-Racing will be back in action in the Blancpain Endurance Series three weeks from now, on 25th/26th July at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, for the blue riband Total 24 Hours of Spa.