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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Lydia Walmsley bounces back with impressive results at Brands Hatch

Lydia Walmsley enjoyed an excellent weekend in the Vertu Mini Challenge with a pair of seventh place finishes at Brands Hatch, maximising her results across the event despite a challenging qualifying session.

Lydia Walmsley, Lydia Walmsley Racing, Vertu Mini Challenge, 2024 Brands Hatch
Photo credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Lydia Walmsley enjoyed an excellent weekend in the Vertu Mini Challenge with a pair of seventh place finishes at Brands Hatch. After failing to finish either race at Donington Park, Walmsley was keen to return to form and showed superb racecraft by maximising her results across the weekend. The team worked hard to improve the setup of the car throughout the event, culminating in performances which saw her battle among the leading group of drivers.

After showing excellent speed at the season opening round at Donington Park, Walmsley was aiming to secure the results to show for it at Brands Hatch. Lydia’s best results of the 2023 season came at the circuit, albeit on the Grand Prix layout, therefore she was looking to carry this pace forward onto the Indy circuit. Completing 47 laps across Friday testing, Walmsley set the 11th fastest time overall while being the eighth quickest driver in session two.

Conditions for qualifying on Saturday morning were similar to that of Friday’s initial sessions, with warm temperatures in Kent. This would mean tyre preservation would be an important factor across the weekend and balancing this was a good grid position would be challenging. Walmsley made a number of runs during the session and set extremely consistent times, with her fastest lap placing her 11th overall.

Lydia’s speed in sector two was among the best in the field and the competitiveness of the Vertu Mini Challenge was apparent as she was less than three tenths of a second away from a second row starting spot.

Race one at Brands Hatch took place on Saturday afternoon with grid positions set based on the drivers second fastest lap times from qualifying.

Walmsley started from ninth courtesy of her tenth quickest qualifying time, combined with a grid penalty for Bradley Gravett. As the lights went out, Lydia made a good start and held ninth position despite starting on the tricky inside grid box. The safety car was then deployed following an incident behind her, allowing Walmsley time to regroup and plot her moves forward.

On the restart, a hard-charging Nelson King found a way through which moved Lydia down to tenth. Determined to fight back, Walmsley was back into ninth with an overtake on Nathan Edwards as battles in the midfield continued to develop. As the race passed the halfway point, Josh Porter moved ahead as positions once again changed hands.

By the end of lap 15, Walmsley was outside the top-10 for the first time as Edwards claimed position, while Lydia also did well to hold off Matt Hammond. After defending smartly from the Directors Cup driver, Walmsley set her sights forward once again. This allowed her to pass Tom Ovenden for tenth and she was able to maintain this position to score her first top-10 result of the season.

Lydia Walmsley, Lydia Walmsley Racing, Vertu Mini Challenge, 2024 Brands Hatch
Photo credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

The grid for race two of the weekend was set by a partial reverse grid at the head of the field, with the remaining of the grid based on race one results. Walmsley was initially scheduled to line up tenth, before a grid penalty for Nelson King and a technical issue for Maximus Hall on the way to the grid elevated her to eighth. A clean start saw Lydia hold her position after the first lap, with her pace appearing improved from the previous day.

Lap three saw Lydia move into sixth position following the retirement of Jamie Osborne, while an overtake on Josh Porter put her in top-5 contention. The following lap saw Walmsley move into fifth as Dominic Wheatley had a moment at McLaren. As Lydia aimed to push forward further, the safety car was deployed following an incident at Paddock Hill bend involving both Bradley Gravett and Matt Hammond, with both cars stranded in the gravel.

After a five-lap period behind the safety car, Walmsley made a good restart and defended well against Josh Porter and then Nathan Edwards. Edwards’ pace was particularly strong in the second half of the race and this allowed him to take over fifth on lap 16, with Porter claiming sixth three laps later.

The final stages of the race were challenging for Walmsley as Tom Ovenden dropped her to eighth, however she remained in close proximity to the drivers ahead which allowed her to benefit from a track limits penalty given out to King, leading to a seventh-place finish.

For the final race of the weekend, the grid was set by the driver’s fastest times in qualifying with Walmsley set to line up 11th. Due to two grid penalties for her rivals, Walmsley was promoted to ninth and ended the opening lap in tenth position. As the two leading cars of Maximus Hall and Dan Zelos broke away from the field, the remainder of the drivers were running nose-to-tail in the early exchanges with a good opportunity for Lydia to move forward.

Her first overtake came on lap six when an issue for Osborne dropped him from sixth to tenth, with the NAPA Racing UK driver now directly behind Walmsley. The car of Porter was her next target and after a series of laps pressuring her rival, she found a way past on lap 11. Following the retirement of Edwards two laps later, Lydia was now into seventh position.

The closing stages of the contest saw her defending stoutly from Porter, with Walmsley’s strength in the final half of the lap allowing her to stabilise the gap. Despite defending her line into Druids on a number of occasions, Lydia had the speed to hold onto the position and secured her second seventh place result of the day.

It was an excellent end to the weekend for Lydia who maximised her results across the event. Despite a challenging qualifying session and searching for improvements to car setup, Walmsley was able to bank a healthy haul of championship points and display excellent racecraft at Brands Hatch. Lydia will now be looking ahead to her home race at Snetterton which takes place on the weekend of 25th/26th May.



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