After impressing with several teams during post-season testing at Paul Ricard and Valencia, James Walker has confirmed that he will be joining reigning champions P1 Motorsport for the 2009 World Series by Renault campaign.
The 25-year old Jerseyman will step into the seat occupied in 2008 by eventual drivers' champion Giedo van der Garde, giving him perhaps his best chance of contesting the title in three years of racing in the F1 feeder series. After winning on home soil at Donington Park in 2007, Walker returned with Fortec Motorsport last season but, despite several frontrunning performances, always seemed to have luck go against him. Fittingly, perhaps, he finished 13th in the season standings...
“This is going to be the most important year in my racing career so far,” Walker admitted, “Opportunities like this don't come along very often and I intend to make the most of racing for someone as experienced as Roly Vincini.”
Experienced engineer Vincini is the founder and team principal of P1 Motorsport, which moved into the WSbR in partnership with Cram Competition in 2006. Already renowned for getting the best out of the series' Dallara chassis, he is also known as a hard, but fair, taskmaster who also gets the best out of his drivers.
“Roly works his drivers hard and that is exactly what I want,” Walker continued, “He pushes all the way to the finish and that is what you have to do to win at this level. I really can't wait for March to come now so I can get stuck into pre-season testing. This is going to be a great year!”
Pre-season testing begins at Jerez on 10 March, before moving onto Valencia and Barcelona, with the opening races of the campaign scheduled for the Circuit de Catalunya over the weekend of 18 April. Walker is the first part to be laid in this year's P1 jigsaw, with van der Garde moving on to GP2 and 2008 team-mate Pippa Mann already committed to a future in the US-based Firestone Indy Lights series, but Vincini sees the British driver as a potential team leader.
“The reason we chose James is that we all like him and we think he'll do well,” he revealed, “He is more than capable of winning races but, for one reason or another, the regular results haven't been there. His driving ability is not in any doubt and, every time he has driven with us, he has been quickest or in the top three. We think we can get a lot more out of James Walker....”