Career best Mini Challenge JCW weekend for Lydia Walmsley
Lydia Walmsley displayed brilliant racecraft to score a new career best finish in the Mini Challenge JCW Championship at Oulton Park - already the venue of her first car racing podium.
Lydia Walmsley has enjoyed her most successful weekend in the Mini Challenge JCW class to date with an impressive pair of results at Oulton Park.
After moving forward from 11th to finish in eighth in the opening race, Walmsley displayed brilliant racecraft in race two to score a new career best finish of seventh in race two. Confident in attack and smart in defence, Lydia and her family run team once again took the fight to the best drivers in the highly competitive championship to continue her excellent season to date.
Lydia arrived into the weekend looking to build upon her impressive year, having collected seven top-10 finishes in the first nine races. Oulton Park was also the scene of Lydia’s first car racing podium, coming in the Mini Challenge Cooper class in 2019. Friday testing saw particularly hot conditions, with the track temperature approaching 50C during the second session. Walmsley ended the day 16th fastest, however times were not entirely representative with varying approaches taken by drivers ahead of the weekend.
Qualifying took place on Saturday morning with Lydia aiming high ahead of the two races which lay ahead. Holding down a top-10 spot for the majority of the session, Lydia ended qualifying in 11th place, just one second behind polesitter and championship leader Dan Zelos. Walmsley’s best lap time was also more than two seconds faster than her testing benchmark, further indicating the different strategies taken by teams ahead of the weekend.
Aiming to move forward in the first race later that day, Lydia made the best possible start and moved into tenth following the opening lap. A three lap safety car period then halted her progress, before a smart restart meant Walmsley sat on the tail of Oliver Meadows for ninth position. Despite Oulton Park being a particularly challenging circuit to overtake on, Lydia kept applying pressure and set her fastest lap of the race on lap nine. Moving ahead of Ryan Faulconbridge on lap 11, Lydia held ninth place to the flag to collect another top-10 result.
This position was improved post-race following a penalty for a driver ahead, meaning Lydia finished eighth to equal her season’s best result to that point. This was even more impressive considering her fastest lap was just four tenths away from the fastest overall, while also setting the third fastest final sector.
For the second and final race of the weekend, Lydia was unfortunate to miss out on reverse grid pole position by just two places, however lining up from the fourth row was still a fantastic achievement. She was determined to take full advantage of this track position and held position on the opening lap, while pressuring championship leader Dan Zelos at the beginning of lap two.
Confidently racing with the leading group of drivers, Walmsley’s lap times were once again impressive as she aimed for a career best result. With light rain also beginning to fall, this provided a further challenge with drivers kept on their toes for the potential of changing conditions.
Lydia continued to run behind Zelos as the race approached halfway, before Meadows fell to seventh and became the new target to overtake. After a superb spell of defending from Dominic Wheatley, the experienced Mini racer passed Walmsley at Old Hall corner at the beginning of lap 10. Determined to regain eighth position, Lydia made a fantastic move on Meadows on lap 11 and closed in on Wheatley for seventh place. Just running out of time to make a move, Lydia took the checkered flag in eighth position before a track limits penalty for Wheatley elevated Walmsley to seventh. This was a career best result in the Mini Challenge JCW class, a well-deserved achievement at a circuit which holds fond memories for Lydia.
Oulton Park once again provided a notable milestone for Walmsley who drove superbly all weekend to claim her best results in the championship. Lydia also maintained her record of completing every lap of the season to date, a brilliant achievement which should not be understated with the close-quarters racing in the Mini Challenge JCW Championship.
As a result, Lydia sits 10th in the overall championship standings, 11th after dropped scores are taken into account. The drivers now enjoy a summer break before the second half of the season gets underway at the thrilling Knockhill circuit in Scotland on the weekend of 12th/13th August.