Liona Theobald claims top-10 finish on Caterham debut
Making her debut in the Sigma 135 class of the Morphmy Caterham Graduates Championship, Liona Theobald competed in a totally different form of racing to what she has been accustomed to - but enjoyed a very positive weekend at Oulton Park, scoring an excellent top ten.
Liona Theobald enjoyed a positive debut weekend in the Sigma 135 class of the Morphmy Caterham Graduates Championship at Oulton Park. In a change from her usual style of racing in the Ginetta GT Championship, Liona qualified 11th in a field of 35 cars before scoring an excellent ninth place result in race one. Theobald recovered well in wet conditions during race two to gain eight positions from lap one to finish 16th.
Making her debut in the Sigma 135 class of the Morphmy Caterham Graduates Championship, Liona would compete in a totally different form of racing to what she has been accustomed to. Racing exclusively on the Ginetta package to date, first in the Ginetta Junior Championship and currently in the Ginetta GT Championship, the driving style required for the Caterham would be significantly different.
The Morphmy Caterham Graduates Championship accommodates drivers with a range of experience levels and sits near the middle of the Caterham racing ladder, providing close-quarters racing in equal machinery.
Adding to the challenge of Liona’s debut weekend, mixed conditions in testing led to limited experience driving the car ahead of the competitive action which would all take place on Saturday. Although rain was not falling for qualifying, the track was wet which made for treacherous conditions with 34 fellow competitors all fighting for pole position.
Despite an early red flag disruption, Theobald did well on her debut in the Morphmy Caterham Graduates Championship to set a time which would see her line up 11th for race one with her second fastest time seeing her qualify 12th for race two of the weekend.
Making her first start in the Caterham in damp but predominantly dry conditions, Liona raced smartly on the opening lap and although dropped two places to 13th, a twenty-minute race would give her good opportunities to move forward. Moving up one position at the end of lap two, Theobald sat 12th as the safety car was deployed. A great job by the marshals allowed racing to resume at the beginning of lap four and after passing Andrew Sagar, she was now into 11th.
Liona’s race pace was particularly strong considering her lack of experience in the car and the young driver continued to push towards the top-10. Applying pressure to Daniel Neale, Theobald made the move on her rival on lap seven and this put her up into ninth position.
With the potential to gain further places, Liona’s progress was halted by a red flag which saw the race results taken from the lap previous. As a result, Theobald finished her first race in the Sigma 135 class of the Morphmy Caterham Graduates Championship in ninth position since the two drivers not running at the time of the red flag were ahead of her on track. This was an excellent debut for Liona who showed superb racecraft in challenging conditions at Oulton Park.
Race two of the weekend was held in extremely wet conditions and from 12th on the grid it was a challenging start for Liona who dropped to 24th at the end of lap one. Immediately gaining back two positions, Liona was then promoted to 21st on lap three as the safety car was deployed. Just three laps remained as racing resumed, however Theobald demonstrated excellent speed and continued her recovery.
Gaining two positions on both laps six and seven, Liona was up to 17th as the final lap got underway. More excellent driving from Theobald saw her gain one position prior to the checkered flag as she competed well in tough conditions to finish in 16th.
Racing in changing conditions throughout the day, Liona showed her adaptability by achieving a top-10 finish on her debut in the Sigma 135 class of the Morphmy Caterham Graduates Championship. At a circuit famed for its difficulty to overtake, Theobald made significant progress in both races and displayed excellent racecraft at Oulton Park.
Liona’s attention will now be directed to the final round of the Ginetta GT Championship which takes place in less than a week at Donington Park where the extra wet weather experience may serve her well.