Lydia Walmsley impresses through the highs and lows at Rockingham

Waiting to race (Photo by Marc Waller)Lydia Walmsley had her second Junior Saloon Car championsip (JSCC) meeting of the season last weekend as the championship moved to Rockingham in Northamptonshire.

It would be only her fourth ever circuit race meeting in a car and after a much better than expected first meeting of the year at Silverstone, Lydia arrived at the track with even greater confidence and hopes of having her best meeting yet.

Testing on Friday went well with her coach Joe Tanner and her times put her in the top two in the field, a stunning achievement for someone so inexperienced but testing counts for nothing and it would be how she performed on Saturday and Sunday that would be the most important thing.

The forecast for the weekend was dry and sunny which would be a big help to Lydia as Rockingham is a tricky circuit to master so wet weather would have added further difficulty to things. But with warm sun shining down and with almost no clouds in the Sky, Lydia took to the track for the practice session. She was quick once again, taking an impressive third, just 8 tenths of a second off the top slot.

But the next session would be the important one, deciding the gird slots for both of Sunday’s races. Lydia went out at the same time as Ethan Hammerton and the two circulated together, trying to get a “slingshot” from each other where you use the “hole in the air” that the leading car makes to help yours travel faster.

The result of this put her fourth on both grids, just four tenths of a second off pole for race one and just a tenth off her first best time put her fourth on the grid for race two where the gird is decided by second best time.

This was Lydia’s best qualifying yet and she felt like she could go faster still in the race. Was a podium going to be possible this weekend? It certainly looked achievable with luck on her side.

So onto Sunday morning and with the first race for the JSCC being the second race of the day, it was an early start. Lydia lined up on the grid and the whole field waited for the lights. It was go as Lydia shot off the line. By her own admission, it wasn’t her greatest ever start and she found herself on the outside as the pack headed to the hairpin. This is always a bit of a gamble on the fist lap and if depends on what your fellow competitors do. Unfortunately for Lydia she found herself “shuffled” down the pack to seventh place by the end of lap one.

However Lydia wasn’t downhearted and immediately set about trying to battle to get her places back, she was up to sixth by lap two and fourth by lap five, she then set about trying to catch the others ahead as well as defending from the cars she had recently overtaken. A safety car period helped bring the pack together once more and gave her a brief chance to make a move for third. But as the chequered flag came out at the end of fifteen minutes she had managed to hold on to her fourth place equalling her best ever result set at Silverstone.

She was now more fired up than ever to take a podium for race two. She got a better start and founed herself up with the front three but as they exited the hairpin disaster struck as a rival struck her car sending it in to the tyrewall and out of the race. It was a disappointing and frustrating end to what had, up till now been a good weekend for Lydia. There was also a lot of damage that would need to be fixed before the next rounds.

Focusing before the race (Photo by Marc Waller) Lydia was straight on the pace at the tricky circuit despite her lack of experience (Photo by Marc Waller) Close battles on the banking (Photo by Marc Waller)




But taking the positives, Lydia had been extremely fast for someone in only their fourth ever car race meeting and she had once again shown she could be as quick as the drivers who already have a season or more behind them.

Lydia spoke about the ups and downs of her weekend afterwards;

“Race one was exciting with lots of changes of position plus a safety car. I crossed the line still in fourth place for another good points haul. However, race two brought the low. The first hairpin saw me taken off the track and out of the race without having completed one racing lap. I managed to limp back to the pits but the damage was too severe to continue.

Dad and David Barber are in the garage assessing the full extent of the necessary repairs as we speak!”

Once the car is repaired back to normal, Lydia will be racing next at the picturesque circuit of Anglesey in Wales where she will be hoping to be at the front once more and perhaps take her first ever podium. This young driver continues to impress with every outing and looks certain to be a star By Marc Waller

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