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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Lydia Walmsley experiences challenging weekend at Oulton Park

Fresh off her first podium in the series, Lydia Walmsley was set for another strong top-10 finish before contact put pay to a good result at Oulton Park's race 1. Despite the setbacks, Walmsley secured valuable points in race 2, maintaining her top-10 position in the standings.

Lydia Walmsley, Vertu Mini Challenge. Oulton Park, 2024
Photo credits: JEP

Lydia Walmsley fought to overcome adversity in the latest round of the Vertu Mini Challenge at Oulton Park. Fresh off her first ever podium in the series, Walmsley was looking to maintain her strong form and qualified inside the top-10 ahead of the two races on the Island circuit.

She was set for a strong top-10 finish in race one, before contact with a competitor ended her race early. Racing with the front group of drivers in race two, an off-track moment put pay to a good result with Walmsley taking the checkered flag in 11th position.

Following her historic maiden podium last time out at Snetterton, spirits were high for Lydia heading into the next round of the championship at Oulton Park. Walmsley’s racecraft has been particularly impressive during her 2024 campaign to date and this has seen her consistently run inside the top-10, while now pushing for top-5 positions. As a result, Lydia sat within the top-10 of the overall standings, while being within one race victory of the top-5 as the drivers entered the weekend.

Conditions were warm and dry for the two free practice sessions which were held on Friday ahead of two races across the weekend. Placing ninth in the opening session, it was a strong start to the weekend for Walmsley which completed 14 laps in the first practice. Session two saw Lydia gain extra track time by turning 20 laps around the Oulton Park Island circuit, with her fastest time of a 1:33.067 seeing her end the day 11th fastest.

Qualifying took place on Saturday morning and would set the grid for the pair of races at Oulton Park. The nature of the circuit allowed drivers to continue to push throughout the session and Walmsley’s fastest lap was set in the second half of the session. Her quickest time of a 1:32.266 placed her 10th overall, but less than eight tenths of a second away from pole position. Lydia’s consistency was once again a feature of qualifying, with her three fastest times all within half a tenth of a second of her best.

The grid for race one of the weekend was set by the second fastest times set in qualifying and this saw Walmsley line up on the fifth row of the grid in tenth position. Lydia made a good start and moved ahead of Lewis Selby on the opening lap to elevate herself to ninth. Ending lap one directly behind Josh Porter, Walmsley was looking to make up further positions with the top-10 drivers running in extremely close proximity.

On lap four, Lydia set a lap time faster than the leader and this ensured she remained in a competitive ninth position as the halfway mark closed in. By lap seven, Walmsley ran just a tenth and a half behind Porter, with Bradley Gravett a further two tenths ahead of the Excelr8 Motorsport racer.

Two laps later, the three drivers were challenging for position into Island hairpin when Lydia received contact and was forced to retire from the race with damage. It was an unfortunate end to the race where Walmsley showed good speed and was set for another top-10 result.

After a good job by the team to repair the damage to the car, Walmsley lined up from tenth position for the second and final race of the weekend on Sunday. A good start from Lydia saw her remain inside the top-10 as she overtook Bradley Gravett while falling behind Jamie Osborne. As Osborne and championship leader Dan Zelos duelled for position ahead, this allowed Walmsley to latch onto this battle in the early stages as her initial pace was strong.

Misfortune then struck on lap four as Lydia took a trip through the grass on the exit of Cascades which dropped her down to 14th position, before fighting ahead of James Griffith to move into 13th spot. Walmsley was quickly recovering places as Marlo Cordell entered the pits on lap five, followed by contact between Osborne and Lewis Selby seeing Gravett collected with the Excelr8 Motorsport driver forced into retirement.

As a result, Lydia was now up to 11th and she entered the top-10 on lap seven when Josh Porter found the tyre barrier on the exit of Druids. Now running behind Selby, Walmsley was on a fine recovery drive but was forced into the pits on lap eight with the car overheating after her earlier trip through the grass. Although remaining on the lead lap, Lydia fell to 11th and took the checkered flag just outside the top-10.

Despite a tough end to the weekend at Oulton Park, Lydia was still able to bank valuable points in race two. The competitiveness of the Vertu Mini Challenge was on display in qualifying where Walmsley was just tenths of a second away from a season’s best effort.

Nonetheless, Lydia retained a top-10 championship position leaving the event and will be looking ahead to the next round at Croft which takes place on the weekend of 27th/28th July.



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