Track action Lydia Walmsley headed to Donington Park recently for the penultimate race meeting in her Mini Challenge season. After having a tougher time at Cadwell Park recently, she hoped to return to the podium positions this time out.

Friday testing proved to be tricky as while there was some sunshine, there was also regular heavy showers of rain. This resulted in very tricky wet conditions on track and this caught out a lot of drivers meaning a lot of red flags. Walmsley had no issues herself but all the stoppages gave her time to do just twenty-six laps over the entire day.

Saturday dawned dry and so Walmsley felt confident going into qualifying. It was a very windy day which played into the hands of drivers in multi car teams who could give each other a tow. Sadly, as a single car team, Walmsley didn’t have that benefit and that along with an understeer issue saw her take eighth. She had received a two-place grid penalty from Cadwell and so that left her in tenth on the grid.

Race one was later that day and Walmsley got a great start and straight into ninth. She got into a battle with eighth place which slowed their pace meaning the top seven gradually pulled away. She eventually overtook eighth and caught the top seven. The top eight were now nose to tail. By the penultimate lap she was in fifth but sadly a rival squeezed her wide. This caused the other car to spin but Walmsley hung on. The loss of speed however saw some cars overtake the slowing Mini, leaving her to cross the line in seventh.

Walmsley was disappointed by the late race incident;

“I would have liked to have finished 5th from the back of the grid but I’m happy nevertheless and it was an extremely exciting race from drivers and spectators alike.”

Sunday saw conditions change with regular showers leaving tricky choices for tyres. This saw most runners opt for slicks. But Walmsley and her team opted to gamble with a half and half set up, Slicks on the front and wets on the rear.

The race started with two green flag laps as conditions were very different to Saturday. Before the race even started, one of the rival cars spun into the barriers on one of the green flag laps. Their car was out and this led to a delay to the start as the damaged car was cleared away.

As another attempt was made to start the race, the rain started to fall once more. Conditions were now treacherous for those on slicks but Walmsley on slicks and wets was making progress. A Cooper class car then had an incident at the chicane which bought out the safety car. By the time it went in there wasn’t much time left in the race and with Walmsley in fifth, she would have to make some decisive moves to make progress. As the race restarted, she got a great start to take fourth into the first corner. On the same lap she made a great exit from Coppice onto the back straight and powered round the outside of both third and second placed cars leaving her in second. Could she now catch and pass first giving her a first race victory?

She was on the tail of first on the final lap but as she reached the chicane on the last lap, she was hit from the rear seeing her turned sideways across the corner.

Fortunately, she held the slide and kept up momentum to keep her rivals behind but it ended up hopes of a win in that race and she crossed the line in a still excellent second place.

PodiumRace three was very wet so no debate on what tyres to use, everyone used wets. The reverse grid saw her starting third. As the race got underway conditions were tough and the first-place car spun off. This caused to whole pack to slow and back up. This allowed the car that inherited first to pull away and at the same time it allowed two rivals past Walmsley putting her in fourth. She spent the rest of the race battling with the fifth and sixth placed cars behind but held them off to take fourth place at the flag. She was happy with Sunday’s races;

“I’ve had two really good results. It’s all to play for in the final round at Snetterton. Many thanks to my team and my sponsors: Morris Lubricants, Whip Street Motors, Barber and Clarke, Derek Hales Limited, Coastline Graphics, Rourke Holdings, M R Walker & Sons, Ropelet and A&D Motors.”

Walmsley’s final Mini challenge races of 2019 at Snetterton are on the 19th and 20th October where she will be doing her best to finish the season on a high. By Marc Waller

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