Encouraging race debut for Ash Walsh in International competition Australian International race driver Ashley Walsh has completed his first round of overseas competition, impressing in the opening round of the Western European Championship for...
Encouraging race debut for Ash Walsh in International competition
Australian International race driver Ashley Walsh has completed his first round of overseas competition, impressing in the opening round of the Western European Championship for Formula Renault 2.0 cars at France's Nogaro circuit.
Walsh, driving for Hitech Junior as a CAMS International Rising Star, qualified 17th and 19th for the two races, and finished 12th and 17th respectively. His result in the second race were not an indication of his pure form, though, as the young Queenslander was running as high as eighth before being involved in two spins on a wet track which dropped him down the order.
Fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo won the first race, while Italian Andrea Caldarelli won the second race.
Walsh entered the round on the back foot, after dealing with a Visa issue a few weeks ago that saw him deported back to Australia, moments after arriving at Heathrow Airport, UK.
An immediate flight back to Spain for final testing allowed him to compete in the first round with little drama.
Walsh will now spend two days with the team at Barcelona as they continue testing, although Walsh himself will complete no laps. He then heads home to Australia before returning to Europe for more testing and Round 2 of the Western European Championship at Dijon, France (May 9).
WALSH ON HIS FIRST WEEKEND IN FORMULA RENAULT:
"It was a good way to make my debut here. The team is happy, not with the result, but I think they know I drove well. The results aren't too special, but there's a lot to take from it. I was probably a bit ambitious to try and make a couple of those passes, but I was having a go. It's hard to pass in these cars, even in the rain. You have to be a lot faster to even be close to the other guys.
"Looking back, it seems so easy to race a Formula Ford!"
WALSH ON HIS FIRST WEEKEND LEFT FOOT BRAKING:
"In the dry, you are doing 240kmh at the end of the straight and braking at 60 metre point before the corner. It's insane!
"When we first saw it, we thought, "How the hell are we going to do this!"
"Our team got a driver coach to talk us through it, and basically, you just have to smash the pedal and brake all the way into the corner. That was a real eye opener and showed me that all these guys are on it over here."
WALSH ON QUALIFYING:
"I reckon the racing is easier than qualifying," he says.
"Qualifying is nearly as dangerous as the racing. There are some pretty serious team tactics going on.
"With 40 cars on the track, there are so many cars out there, you need to find space, and it feels like some of them are trying to shunt you in qualifying! It's pretty dangerous."
WALSH ON THE RACING:
"The first few laps of the race are hectic," he said.
"There are shunts left right and centre. I was pretty lucky, I came home with no scratches on the car.
"I reckon there are about 12 drivers who are in their second year and they are really, really fast. If you are in the top 10 in this championship you are doing really well.
"This has been the worst track we've been to, for the whole team. We were definitely surprised to come here and be so far off the pace. The car is better in the race than in qualifying. We just need to work on the one-lap speed, and as I learn, things will be better for me as well."