Winter line-ups unveiled by Hillspeed

Sean Walkinshaw. Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography.
Sean Walkinshaw. Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography.

PEAK District-based motorsport team Hillspeed has announced a three-car entry into the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault UK Finals Series, which begins at Snetterton 300 Circuit in East Anglia this weekend, before concluding at Rockingham in Northamptonshire six days later.

Running a trio of Tatuus FR 2.0 cars in the BARC Class of the renamed ‘winter series’, the Hathersage team will retain promising first-year prospect Sean Walkinshaw to compete alongside racing novice Joe Kibbler and Spanish driver Victor Jimenez.

Chipping Norton-based Walkinshaw, who will celebrate his 18th birthday two days before the start of the Finals Series, improved strongly during his debut year in the main Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship with a best result of 13th place at Thruxton and two further top-14 finishes.

Jimenez, for whom 2011 marks only his second year of single-seater racing, switches to Hillspeed for the Finals Series having ended the main summer season 16th overall in the standings. The 27-year-old from Madrid achieved a best race result of sixth during the opening weekend at Donington Park.

Kibbler, who resides in Sutton Coldfield, is a complete racing novice so will be very much diving in at the deep end in the Finals Series with a superb grid of over 30 cars expected. The 21-year-old’s only prior experience of race circuits is from track days but his maiden test outings have gone well.

Commenting on the three-car line-up, team principal Richard Ollerenshaw said: “We’re absolutely delighted to continue working with Sean. He’s shown an immense amount of promise during his first year of racing and he’ll only continue to improve further in the Finals Series.

“Victor delivered some fantastic performances in Formula Renault BARC this season and we’re very pleased to have secured a deal with him. We’re confident he’ll be a strong contender. It’s always great to start working with a rookie driver and so far Joe has adapted well. He does face a very steep learning curve but we’ve no doubt he’ll progress strongly at Snetterton and Rockingham.”

For the Ginetta Junior Winter Series, which will run alongside Formula Renault at both Snetterton and Rockingham, reigning driver and team champions Hillspeed will field a car for 14-year-old rookie William Palmer – son of MotorSport Vision boss Jonathan and brother of GP2 Series racer Jolyon.

Having debuted as a complete novice during rounds 11 and 12 of the main Ginetta Junior campaign at Snetterton in August with the Derbyshire squad, the Bedford-based teenager made two further appearances before the end of the season at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit – where he attained a career best result of eighth – and at Silverstone for the championship finale.

Since debuting in Ginetta Junior at the beginning of 2010, Hillspeed’s record has been outstanding having taken Tom Ingram and Seb Morris to the last two driver championships, Morris to last year’s Winter Series title and having also claimed this year’s team championship. With Palmer, Hillspeed sees yet another young driver with the potential to go on and attain similar success.

Ollerenshaw added: “It’s a pleasure to continue working with William for the Ginetta Winter Series, in only three race meetings in the main championship he proved his worth against drivers with much more experience so the future looks very bright indeed for him.

“The rate of improvement so far has been outstanding, we’re certain that will only continue over the next couple of weekends.”