Lydia leads race two (Photo by Marc Waller)Lydia Walmsley was in action again last weekend for the latest rounds of the Mini Challenge Cooper Pro championship at the Cheshire circuit of Oulton Park.

This would be a one day meeting on the Saturday but with a test day on Friday. Lydia was feeling positive going into the weekend that she could have a good weekend and put her bad luck behind her.

The team arrived on Thursday evening so they would be set up ready for the first test session of the day early on Friday morning. It dawned wet on Friday and unfortunately no sooner did the first session start than it was over due to another car having a big off. There were two more sessions during the day

As the morning went on, the rain stopped and by the time the cars left the pits for the second session it was dry. The third session was also dry and it enabled Walmsley to get plenty of laps in. She was fourth fastest overall in the times for the day and so things were looking good for Saturday.

Qualifying was on a damp but rapidly drying track. Unfortunately, one of the other cars spun into the gravel on the first lap out of the pits so a big chunk of qualifying was held under the safety car, making it impossible to set a proper lap time. With thirty-three cars on track at once for this race meeting, there was a lot of traffic making it tough for Walmsley to get a clear lap. She got one chance for a quick lap and to make things worse, her ABS system decided to pack up at the same time. She ended up seventh, not a disaster but less than she hoped for.

“A safety car, an ABS issue and having time for only one flying lap cost us a few positions there so the team are working hard in order to fix our little gremlin! Onwards and upwards for the first race!” Commented Walmsley after the session.

Race one saw her make a Phenomenal start to move into fourth on the first corner from her seventh place starting slot. She held the position with ease until a slowing car caused her to brake to avoid it and this let the two cars behind Lydia back on to her tail and then through putting her in sixth. It then started to rain. Walmsley continued to pursue the two rivals who had passed her but the race came to an end early when one of the cars from further back, took out the barriers at the Shell oils corner. The barrier damage was so bad that the decision was made to actually change the layout for the rest of the day. This meant that the second race would have three laps behind the safety car and a rolling start. It could be interesting for whoever was on pole.

The pole was decided by a draw and sixth was pulled out, it was Walmsley on pole! She was thrilled to have her first pole but nervous at what was to come.

It rained in the gap between the races but by the time the cars headed on track it was dry.

Walmsley had been concerned on what she should do at the start as not only was it her first pole but it was also her first rolling start from the front too!

Lyida on the pdoium (Photo by Marc Waller) Lydia with her small family team and driver coach Joe Tanner (Photo by Marc Waller)




She needn’t have worried, after the initial three laps behind the safety car, she judged the start to perfection and by the first corner she was already several car lengths ahead. If her rivals would now start fighting for position, there was a strong chance for her first win! Sadly the two closest cars to her didn’t fight for long and both set off after her.

Things were initially going well but then the ABS issue which had blighted qualifying returned. Robbie Dalgleish was first to catch her and after a bit of a battle he took the lead. Championship leader Toby Goodman then also fought but passed Walmsley who was having to drive around her brake issue. Her pace was enough to keep her ahead of the rest of the field and she crossed the line in third to take her first ever podium in car racing.

She spoke after the race;

Well I got to spray some champagne today! Finally, I got my first podium in car racing! I took third even with the returning ABS issue! I’m Over the moon!

Special, special thanks to my phenomenal team: Mum, Dad, Dave and coach Joe!

Also, to my amazing sponsors without whom I wouldn't even be on the track: Morris Lubricants, Barber and Clarke Ltd, Whip Street Motors Ltd, Derek Hales Ltd, Coastline Graphics, Simon Rourke, M R Walker & Sons, Ropelet, A&D Motors and Totally your designs.”

She returns to action on the nineteen and twentieth of July at the Brands Hatch Mini festival where she will try to continue her podium streak. By Marc Waller

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