thumb gw291019r1Lydia Walmsley headed to Snetterton circuit in Norfolk for the second time this season as the Mini Challenge drew to a close with it’s final rounds.

Having already visited the lower two steps of the podium during the season, Walmsley was hoping to pick up another trophy at the final round maybe even the one that is so far missing from her collection, the one for the winner!

Friday testing was dry and even occasionally sunny as Walmsley headed out with instructor and driver coach, Joe Tanner. The test session was on track with the JCW class but despite this, lots of useful laps were completed giving her a big boost going into the race weekend itself.

Saturday dawned with a wet track after a huge amount of rain fell overnight. When the cars headed on track for qualifying, the track was still damp. Most cars went for a half wets and slicks combination but Walmsley and her team went their own way with full wets.

It proved to be absolutely the correct decision as many drivers then headed straight to the pitlane to put on full wets. This let Walmsley shoot straight to the top of the times and she stayed there, setting faster and faster laps. She looked set for pole until in the closing seconds, two drivers just edged ahead of her and put her in third. (One was the championship leader) It was disappointing after holding pole for almost all the session but third was still a great grid slot.

As Race one got underway later on Saturday, Walmsley made a good start and stayed in third going around the first corner Riches. But as the cars entered the hairpin, one of the cars in front got sideways. To avoid a crash, Walmsley had to slow down far more than she would normally for the corner. This allowed several cars past, shuffling her down the order. She managed to fight her way back to sixth place at the flag, a bit disappointment but there was soon a consolation! When the reverse grid was drawn, she found herself in pole position and so would have a great chance of a top finish in Sunday’s final race.

Race two was in the early afternoon on Sunday and Walmsley made one of her best starts of the season pulling a big gap straight away, helped by some of her rivals behind fighting each other for position.

Unfortunately with the cars behind using each other for a “tow” (Where the cars can run faster in a group due to the aerodynamic advantage) they started gaining on her and newly crowned champion Robbie Dalgleish was soon on her tail.

Walmsley went into fully defensive mode, defending her position going into every corner. The slower pace gave another rival, Toby Goodman the chance to join the battle.

But Walmsley was keeping both rivals behind when a further complication was introduced in the form of another rain shower. With all the cars on slicks it became a treacherous and nervous race as drivers fought for position at the same time as fighting to keep control of their cars.

As the first driver to reach each corner, Walmsley became the “Guinea pig” and had to work out where to brake, giving her rivals a big advantage if she made any mistakes. Fortunately Walmsley was avoiding making any until disaster nearly struck on the final lap. Walmsley found the Wilson hairpin much more slippery this time round and ran wide. Fortunately this gave her a faster exit and enabled her to keep her rivals behind if only just!

Track action  Winners Podium Photo courtesy of Mini Challenge by Dave Young

 

 

 

They crossed the line nose to tail with Walmsley taking her first ever win in cars since she started in 2016 at the age of 14.
Walmsley was very happy;

“We’re elated and so happy to finally achieve a victory and to become the final winner of 2019!” She said after the race, “A Special, special thanks to my amazing team [Mum, Dad, Dave Barber and Joe Tanner] but also to my amazing sponsors: Morris Lubricants, Barber and Clarke Ltd, Whip Street Motors, Derek Hales Ltd, Coastline Graphics, Rourke Holdings, M R Walker & Sons, Ropelet and A&D Motors for their continued support. Without them, we wouldn’t be on the grid and having these brilliant opportunities to achieve such amazing results! I’m really pleased to finish 2019 on a high and I’m looking forward to returning in 2020 when we will have two meetings supporting the BTCC. This is really exciting as it’s where I eventually want to be and it will feel like another step towards my goal.”  By Marc Waller 

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