Lydia Walmsley and her team were at Brands Hatch over the bank holiday weekend for their first ever Mini festival meeting which included the latest rounds of the Mini challenge Cooper Pro Am championships.
Lydia got the chance for some testing with her instructor Joe Tanner as usual on Friday and she set some of her best laps yet only two tenths of a second off championship leader Kyle Reid. This was despite only having a couple of half sessions on her own to adjust to being in the car solo.
Saturday was sunny but not very warm as the cars headed out to qualify. Lydia found herself having to avoid the championship leader Kyle Reid as he spun in front of her. There were then six laps under yellow flag conditions as another rival became stick at Paddock Hill bend. So with only limited time to qualify, Lydia found herself a strong seventh not far off the front runners but a second quicker than the car behind her.
The first race was later the same day. Lydia made a good start and was initially up to sixth by the time they reached the Cooper straight. Seventh place was still slightly alongside as they headed towards Surtees leaving Lydia off line. With it being the first lap, the tyres were still cold and the combination of factors saw the car start to slide as they headed into Surtees. This put Lydia on the grass as the car slid (the alternative was sliding into a rival) but she quickly corrected and got back on track with the cars behind all avoiding her. She was however, last in her class and quite a bit off the pack.
Lydia managed this very quickly and was soon past ninth and eighth places to move back into seventh. An Oil spill at Graham Hill then caused lots of the field to spin off. Lydia’s pevious experience of oil spills in the JSCC was an advantage here and she managed to keep control. This moved her up to fifth place.
Unfortunately, the race was red flagged which meant the grid for the restart was declared from the lap before so instead of fifth, Lydia lined up in ninth. The restarted race didn’t have long to run but Lydia again fought up to seventh. It was a good result but her pace had deserved something even better!
The weekend’s other two races were both on Sunday. The day initially started dry but as they waited in the assembly area it started to spit. They now had a dilemma over tyre choice. Lydia and the team went for a mix of slicks and wets. Most of the field appeared to do the same. As the race got underway, it started raining heavily. Lydia was doing well in the wet conditions and was up to fifth and pulling away from sixth. A car elsewhere in the pack spun into the Paddock Hill bend gravel meaning the safety car was scrambled. One car came in for full wets but Lydia didn’t feel the time loss was worth it and stayed out. On the restart, Lydia gained a place after a rival spun in front but at the same time lost another place as she slowed and was passed by the car on full wets who by now, was the quickest car on track. She drew alongside sixth place on the final corner and they had a race to the line. Lydia was classified seventh but just 0.006 seconds behind sixth.
Race three was less eventful but Lydia was racing in a pack that included fifth, sixth and seventh in the torrential rain. She didn’t want to risk a good result in an attempt to get a slightly better one and so she finished in seventh where she started, lapping a rival in the progress.
“Overall, I had a fantastic and very enjoyable weekends racing. Although my results on paper seem to be similar to last meetings results, my pace has improved significantly and I am incredibly close to breaking into the tight top 6 pack! I just want to thank my fantastic team: Dad, Mum, Dave Barber and Joe Tanner but also my sponsors: Morris Lubricants, Whip Street Motors, Derek Hales New Homes in Norfolk and A&D Motors.”
Said Lydia, after the event.
Her next rounds are at Cadwell Park half way through September. By Marc Waller