Blancpain GT: Melton racer Craig Dolby on the pace in Portugal

Craig Dolby is raring to go at Spa EMN-150729-145921002
Craig Dolby is raring to go at Spa EMN-150729-145921002
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Melton racing driver Craig Dolby and team-mate Sean Walkinshaw showed their mettle as the Blancpain Sprint Series resumed in Portugal after its mid-season break.

They qualified sixth on the grid in Portimao last weekend before going on to claim some valuable championship points in the main race.

The JRM drivers were run by Always Evolving Motorsport, with operator support from AIM Autosport, for the first time and the new collaboration started strongly when Dolby and Walkinshaw qualified the new Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in sixth place.

A short way into the qualifying race, Dolby was forced to pit with gear selection difficulties. The crew got the car back out on track within seconds, but the time lost entering and exiting the pits put the JRM pairing a lap down in 14th.

Dolby pushed the pace upon returning to the action, and was one of the fastest on track, and quickest overall on several laps.

It was a similar story during Walkinshaw’s stint as he recorded the car’s fastest time through the second sector and was the quickest man on the track in the closing stages.

The 21-year-old’s great form continued in Sunday’s main race when he hauled the Nissan from 14th up to P9, passing the WRT Audi and other front-running cars.

Dolby joined the action just after the safety car was deployed, bunching the field up tightly and compromising his chances of making further progress up the leaderboard, but he secured a welcome eighth-placed finish.

He said: “It was a great recovery drive from Sean and I after the disappointment of the qualifying race.

“The safety car didn’t do us any favours because it bunched the field right up and everyone was battling hard.

“I didn’t feel like I quite got the pace out of the car that I wanted, but there are lots of positives that we can take away.

“We were effectively a new team in Portimao, but we’ve taken a big step in the right direction and we’re continuing to score points when it’s possible.”

Dolby returns to action, alongside Walkinshaw and Martin Plowman, at the world-famous Nurburgring circuit, in Germany, which hosts the final round of the Blancpain Endurance Series on September 19-20.