Last year’s rounds had ended with a badly damaged car but with all the progress made since, she was determined not to do the same thing in 2019.
The test day on Friday had almost every type of weather in a single day, rain, wind sunshine and everything in between too! With less experience at this track, Walmsley was initially more tentative than usual although her times soon started tumbling. Several red flags lessened her track time and showed just how tricky the circuit is with several drivers getting caught out.
The rest of the weekend was all on one day with qualifying and the two races all on Saturday, it would be a busy day with short turn arounds. Any major damage could be a big issue as there wouldn’t be time to fix it.
Qualifying proved to be tough with a lot of cars on the narrow circuit, it was almost impossible for Walmsley to get a clear lap. On top of this she lost two fastest laps for track limits infringements. But showing how hard it was to perfect the lines, most of the rest of her class bar one also lost two laps! It left her in eighth, disappointing but not a disaster and importantly the car was intact and working!
As the lights went out for race one, Walmsley made a great start and out dragged seventh place into the first corner. Unfortunately she was then boxed in on the narrow uphill section and couldn’t find a way through up into a higher position despite having a faster start. Sixth place ahead of her started to lose its exhaust which was a further worry as it could fly off and go through the windscreen of her car.
Walmsley set about challenging sixth whilst at the same time she was under pressure from the eighth placed car behind. The three remained nose to tail and Walmsley was unable to find a way past but she did keep her challenger at bay leaving her to cross the line in seventh which was an improvement from her starting position. She hoped for more from race two.
Starting from her race one finishing spot, she got a good start and the cars raced as one into the first corner. They were too wide to fit through the narrow parts together and the contact caused cars to run off the circuit. The tough battling kept going throughout the race with Walmsley hanging onto seventh. Things looked set for a seventh place finish when on the last lap, a bump with a rival saw Walmsley heading off the track and into a grass bank, it looked like 2018 was repeating itself again!
Fortunately, Walmsley regained control without making contact with any barriers and recovered to take eighth, only dropping one place in the excursion. The car looked quite battled scarred but it was mostly okay, intact and straight which was a big improvement on last season’s nightmare. She was disappointed to not score a podium this time and spoke after the race about how she felt about the weekend;
“This was one of the toughest race meetings for me with results being slightly lower than what we had hoped for. I am now looking forward to progressing onto the next round at Donington Park and hopefully onto the podium again. I just want to thank my team for their hard work and my sponsors: Morris Lubricants, Whip Street Motors, Barber and Clarke Ltd, Derek Hales Limited, Coastline Graphics, Rourke Holdings, M R Walker & Sons, A&D Motors and Ropelet for their continued support.”
With just Donington and Snetterton rounds left now, Walmsley will be looking to get the best results possible to try and finish high in the championship standings. By Marc Waller