James Walker 6 Hours of Estoril race report

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James Walker press release

Walker Wins In Portugal!

#66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia: Rob Bell, James Walker
#66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia: Rob Bell, James Walker

Photo by: Daniel James Smith

James Walker and his JMW Motorsport team-mate Rob Bell took a truly amazing win at Estoril yesterday in the final round of the 2011 Le Mans Series. This result lifts them to second place in the GTE-Pro class standings, which in itself secures a Le Mans 24 Hours entry for JMW Motorsport in 2012.

“That was the perfect weekend,” said a jubilant James. “It was definitely the best race weekend of my career. It has taken ten years to get to this point and it feels great to know I am racing against some of the best drivers in the world and winning races.”

James and Rob won the first race of the season at Paul Ricard back in April and have been fighting hard for the second win ever since. To take it in style at the last race of the year is testament to the hard work that they and the team have put in.

“We had a great car for the race,” explained James. “And our Dunlop tyres were perfectly suited to the hot track temperatures. Rob got us off on the right foot by taking pole position and we haven’t looked back.”

Rob actually lost the lead at the start as he got tangled up with the back markers in the prototype class but he got it back and pushed on to create a 19 second lead by the time the first pit-stop was due. James then joined the race and increased that lead to over 40 seconds.

Nothing ever runs completely smoothly in a six-hour race though and in Rob’s next stint he lost a bit of time after tussle with an Aston Martin. The Porsche in second position started to stretch its legs at this stage too and the next time James jumped in he found himself in second place to the Porsche.

“I managed to catch Marc (Lieb) in the Porsche and had a lot of fun hounding him for 44 laps!” said James. “He was quicker than me in a straight line but I had the edge in some of the corners. I did actually pass him into turn one a couple of times but he got me back. He then pitted a lap earlier than us so I got my head down and made sure I made the most of the clear track on my in lap.”

The JMW Motorsport pit crew always executes fast and efficient pit stops but they saved the best for last yesterday and as James handed over to Rob for the final time the yellow Ferrari rejoined the race in the lead!

“Rob did the last stint with that Porsche literally glued to his rear bumper,” said James. “It was as close as it can get. They actually came into the penultimate corner of the last lap side by side, which did a fair bit of damage to our nerves!”

When asked to sum up his weekend James said: “Just perfect. I’ve put my stall out for next year and shown that I deserve to be here and I can’t wait to do it all again in 2012.”

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Series ELMS
Tags estoril, ferrari, jmw motorsport, walker