James Walker was unable to repeat the form he displayed on home soil at Donington Park as the World Series by Renault headed to French soil for the latest rounds of the season at Magny-Cours.
The Jersey racer qualified eighth in his group during the early session on Saturday morning and went into race one with high hopes for a good result. Unfortunately the black clouds rolled into Nevers an hour before the race and the track was already soaked when the 30 World Series cars lined up on the grid.
The race began in very difficult conditions and soon the wet track began to pick off its first casualties, among then Walker's new team-mate, Esteban Guerrieri. Walker however stayed out of trouble in the opening laps, reporting in that the track was now so wet that he could only go 60mph on the back straight before aquaplaning. The World Series cars usually reach speeds of 170mph on that straight.
He pitted early to get out of the traffic and had the equal fastest stop of all the cars before rejoining in eleventh place. He continued on for six more laps but the rain was getting steadily worse, illustrated by the fact that Bonanomi, Kimball, Razia, Duran and Walker himself all went off on the same lap. Over the half the field failed to finish race one.
“I can't believe the race wasn't red-flagged on lap one,” he said. “There was standing water everywhere by the time I went off. I went to turn in at the second quick chicane and I hit water and from that point on I became a passenger!”
Walker had to start race two down in 23rd place but got a great start, moving up five places, and was running in 18th in a long stream of cars. With it being so difficult to overtake, Walker purposely dropped back towards the end in order to see how good his real pace was when he wasn't being slowed by traffic. He finished the race putting in times on the pace of the leaders.
“Obviously it's disappointing to come away with these results after the recent highs of Donington,” he said. “We can still see progress though and I was pleased that my qualifying time was within half a second of pole. The rain in race one pretty much ended our hope of a good result by turning the race into a lottery but we escaped without major damage and we live to fight another day!”