WALKER UPS THE PACE AT SPA Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium -- 19 August 2007: James Walker demonstrated another big step up in his on-track performance at Spa this weekend, running at a fantastic pace throughout...
WALKER UPS THE PACE AT SPA
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium -- 19 August 2007: James Walker demonstrated another big step up in his on-track performance at Spa this weekend, running at a fantastic pace throughout the event. James and the team had already made great improvements before the last races in Hungary and it was gratifying to see the upward momentum carrying through to Spa.
James started race one from the ninth row on the grid after having his best qualifying performance of the year undone by a slower car on Friday. James had been in third place for the whole session as the conditions changed from wet to dry. The track got faster and faster throughout the session but then, as James came around for his final flying lap he was blocked and missed the chequered flag, and his opportunity for one more lap, by seconds. He would have a lot of work to do in the race.
The Jersey racer got away well at the start of race one, passing the two cars ahead of him, but as the cars entered the La Source hairpin an accident higher up the field scattered the pack. James went around the outside and looked to have avoided the drama until he was hit at the exit of the hairpin. Although this lost James several places he was soon right back on the pace, despite the damage to his car. The drama wasn't over though as James was then hit again on lap three which meant he had to dive into the pits for a nose change a lap later. This was too early for his regular pit stop so he had to stop for that later, losing even more time. After that there was nothing for it other than to make sure his lap times were up there with the leaders and make the best of a lot of unlucky breaks before taking the chequered flag in 20th place.
James started race two knowing that he had a mountain to climb so his plan was to go on the attack from the start. He got a perfect start and powered his way through from 20th on the grid to 14th place by the exit of the first corner! At the beginning of lap three he crossed the line in 10th place, challenging for ninth, which he duly took on the pit straight.
As he went into Eau Rouge, James was slipstreaming Xavier Maassen, ready to go for the pass. He got alongside the Dutchman but at the same time Fairuz Fauzy got alongside James. Three into one doesn't go and, as the drivers braked at the top of Eau Rouge, James was hit and sustained race-ending damage to his front left wheel.
"Although we didn't get the results this weekend it's gratifying to see that we have made another step forward in performance," said James. "We had our fair share of good luck in Budapest in terms of results but very little luck here at Spa. Sometimes though circumstances are out of your control. We have proved this weekend that we have the pace to qualify in the top three and race at the sharp end so now we just need it all to come together at the right time. Without the accident today we would have finished in sixth or seventh which would have been the best demonstration of our progression, but that's racing I guess! I'm fired up for Donington now. Our pace will continue to improve and Donington is my track so let's hope the result we deserve comes there."
The Donington rounds of the World Series by Renault take place in three weeks time on 8/9 September.