Liona Theobald closes out the Ginetta GT Championship season at Donington Park
Liona Theobald rounded off her campaign in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT Championship with another strong showing at Donington Park, including a season’s high of fourth in qualifying and a best result of sixth while narrowly missing out on the fastest lap in race two.
Stepping up to the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT Championship for 2023, it has been a season of promise for Liona Theobald who rounded off her campaign with another strong showing at Donington Park. In just her second year of circuit racing, her first at senior level, Liona secured seventh place in the GT Pro standings.
Qualifying a season’s high fourth in wet conditions, the SVG Motorsport driver achieved a best result of sixth to close out the season, while narrowly missing out on the fastest lap in race two.
Fresh off her successful debut in the Sigma 135 class of the Morphmy Caterham Graduates Championship, Liona returned to the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT Championship targeting her maiden podium finish. With a high-quality entry for the season finale at Donington Park, it would be a challenge which Theobald relished.
Following the cancellation of Friday’s pre-event test due to heavy rain, drivers headed into qualifying with limited track time, albeit at a venue already visited by the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT Championship in 2023. Wet conditions meant that extracting the maximum from the new tyres would be the key to a good grid position. Liona put in a brilliant performance to set the fourth fastest time, with her second fastest lap also placing her inside the top-5.
Track conditions were dry for the opening race, however it was damp off-line and Liona’s grid box was particularly slippery. As a result, this led to a challenging start with the SVG Motorsport driver dropping to ninth at the end of lap one. Finding her feet in the tricky conditions, Theobald moved ahead of both Carl Garnett and Blake Angliss to move into seventh by the end of lap five.
Although not in contention for a podium finish at this point, Liona’s speed was extremely encouraging, particularly in sector two where she continued to gain on Bal Sidhu. She applied consistent pressure to her rival and although Theobald was unable to make a move, Liona ended the race in seventh position, promoted to sixth following a post-race penalty, and knew she had the pace to fight for top-5 positions in the final two races of the season.
Courtesy of her consistency in qualifying, Liona started race two from fifth on the grid. A chaotic opening lap saw the SVG Motorsport driver avoid damage and although dropping to seventh, she had a chance to regain positions as the safety car was deployed. Overtaking Bal Sidhu on the restart, Theobald moved up to sixth and set her eyes forward before a small incident dropped her back a position.
Crossing the line in seventh, Liona missed out on the fastest lap of the race by just a tenth of a second, the smallest margin of the entire season.
Lining up in seventh position for the final race of the season, Liona took a measured approach knowing she had the speed to contend for a top-5 position. Dropping to ninth at the end of lap three, she was quickly fighting back and after passing Carl Garnett, the SVG Motorsport driver was targeting an overtake on veteran racer Colin White.
Continuing to run consistent lap times, Liona was up to sixth by the conclusion of lap 12 and was in position to end the season on a high. She did so in the best possible way by being the fastest driver in the field on the final lap of the race, crossing the line in sixth position.
Liona has enjoyed a season of development in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT Championship, with Donington Park being her most successful circuit. A season’s best in qualifying highlighted her single lap improvement, in a year which has seen her race pace be on par with those of a greater experience level.
At both Brands Hatch and Donington Park, Theobald has narrowly missed out on claiming a fastest lap and it is this speed which she will aim to replicate as her eyes become firmly set on the 2024 season.