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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Lydia Walmsley ends the season on a high at Brands Hatch

Lydia Walmsley displayed fantastic character in the final round of the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge which epitomised her excellent season in the championship: with an excellent final weekend at Brands Hatch, she secured a top-10 finish in the championship standings.

Lydia Walmsley, Lydia Walmsley Racing, Vertu Motors Mini Challenge
Photo credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Lydia Walmsley secured a top-10 finish in the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge championship standings with an excellent final weekend at Brands Hatch. The meeting was not without challenges however, with two unfortunate incidents leading to smashed windscreens in both free practice and qualifying.

This made for an extremely uncomfortable race one in which Walmsley finished 13th, before bouncing-back superbly to finish the final two races of the season in seventh, consistently running with the leading group of drivers.

Lydia arrived at Brands Hatch following her best result of the season at Silverstone. Although showing her strength in wet conditions last time out, Walmsley would need to acclimatise to uncharacteristically warm track conditions throughout the weekend.

Completing the second-fewest number of laps across Friday’s two practice sessions due to a smashed rear windscreen from gravel damage, Lydia placed 18th in session one and 16th in session two, with two returning Vertu Motors Mini Challenge champions making her quest for a top-10 result more challenging.

Qualifying took place on Saturday morning and gave Lydia a chance to push forward for a strong starting position. The session was heavily disrupted by three red flag periods which affected Walmsley’s ability to get into a rhythm and improve her lap times. This was compounded by a second damaged windscreen in an unfortunate turn of events, which left Lydia without a replacement for the opening race to follow.

A final position of 15th was not representative of her speed, however being less than two tenths of a second away from a sixth row starting position reaffirmed the competitiveness of the championship.

An action-packed first lap of race one saw Lydia initially gain a position, before slipping to 16th at the conclusion of the opening tour. Positions were closely-contested in the early exchanges, with Walmsley side-by-side across the line with debutant Maximus Hall as the drivers began lap four. Passing both Hall and Spencer Stevenson at the conclusion of the lap, Lydia was on the move and a top-10 position was within reach.

From there, Lydia set her personal best lap time and closed in on the drivers ahead before making a move on Josh Porter for 13th. The positions were reversed on lap seven as great battles continued throughout the field. Once again moving ahead of Porter on lap ten, Walmsley regained 13th and immediately caught EXCELR8 Motorsport driver Thomas Jack Lee.

Despite mounting a late challenge, Lydia was unable to pass her rival and finished race one in 13th with the missing rear windscreen leading to an uncomfortable race behind the wheel. Nonetheless her pace was encouraging and Walmsley aimed for a return to the top-10 in the two final races of the season to follow on Sunday.

Lydia Walmsley, Lydia Walmsley Racing, Vertu Motors Mini Challenge
Photo credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

After sourcing a replacement windscreen overnight, Lydia lined up 13th for race two and was looking for a change of fortunes to end the weekend on a high. It was a disrupted start to the race, with a start-line incident leading to an initial red flag and this was followed by a mechanical problem for another driver leading to a further delay.

These can be particularly challenging times for drivers, with their patience and concentration tested to the limit. This was compounded by a reduced race distance of just ten minutes, however Lydia showed excellent composure and made a fast start to move into ninth at the conclusion of lap one.

Immediately showing an increase in speed from Saturday’s running, Walmsley used this to good effect on lap two as she overtook Jamie Osborne for eighth. Attempting to bridge the gap to Bradley Gravett ahead, Lydia set her fastest lap of the race on lap four which was less than a tenth of a second slower than her quickest time from qualifying.

On the penultimate lap of the shortened contest, she was able to overtake Gravett to take the checkered flag in seventh position, scoring points for fifth due to the two guest entrants ahead. This equalled Walmsley’s best finish in dry conditions and with race three grid positions based on the race two result, this gave her the perfect opportunity to end the season on a high.

Starting the season finale from seventh, Lydia lost two positions on a closely-contested opening lap before moving ahead of Sam Smith and Spencer Stevenson on successive laps to regain her seventh position by the end of lap three. Despite overtaking Stevenson, Walmsley was the second fastest driver on lap three and this ensured she remained in touch with the leading group of drivers.

By lap six, Lydia remained just over five seconds away from race leader Sam Weller and although starting to come under pressure from Stevenson, she defended her position well. The following lap saw champion Dan Zelos overtake Walmsley, however Lydia’s lap times remained competitive as she held in close proximity to her rival. Moving past Nelson King in the closing stages, Walmsley took the checkered flag in seventh to secure her largest haul of points of the year to end the season on a high note.

Lydia displayed fantastic character in the final round of the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge which epitomised her excellent season in the championship. Competing with her family run team Lydia Walmsley Racing, she has continued to make progress in the primary feeder series for the British Touring Car Championship.

Failing to finish in only one of the twenty races over the course of the season, Walmsley’s consistency was supplemented by significant strides forward in performance during the second half of the season. Achieving a career best result of fifth at Silverstone, Lydia’s pair of seventh place finishes at Brands Hatch came on a weekend where two returning champions lined up on the grid.

Throughout her career to date, Walmsley has consistently built upon her performances from the previous year and continued to improve with this mantra being at the forefront of her mind as she assembles her plans for the 2024 season.



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