Lydia Walmsley scores breakthrough top-5 finish at Silverstone
Lydia Walmsley displayed race-winning pace to claim her maiden top-5 result in the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge after a stunning weekend in Silverstone, closing out the penultimate weekend of the season with her largest points haul to date.
Lydia Walmsley recorded her best finish in the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge with a stunning fifth place result in wet conditions at Silverstone. After a challenging qualifying session in dry conditions, Walmsley charged through the field in race one to gain five position and finish inside the top-10.
She then backed this up by a career best JCW drive in race two, displaying race-winning pace to claim her maiden top-5 result. A further top-10 in race three underlined her speed, closing out the penultimate weekend of the season with her largest points haul to date.
Lydia arrived at Silverstone looking for more consistent performances in order to push towards a top-10 overall position in the championship standings. Friday saw drivers hit the track for two test sessions ahead of the competitive action to come over the weekend.
Times were incredibly close in session one with Lydia setting the 14th fastest time, just three-quarters of a second away from the pacesetter. The second session featured changeable conditions, with Walmsley taking to the track in the closing stages when the track was at its driest, ending the day in 12th position.
Dry conditions returned for qualifying on Saturday morning in what would be a very closely contested session. Lydia spent much of qualifying near to the top-10, ending the session 15th fastest. Walmsley’s fastest time was just three tenths of a second away from a third-row starting position, highlighting the competitive nature of the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge JCW class.
Consistency was her strength in qualifying, with her fastest three lap times within half a tenth of a second of her best, and carrying this forward into the races would be vital.
After qualifying 15th, Lydia was immediately promoted to 13th with two of her rivals failing to take the start and following an excellent opening lap, Walmsley was into 12th.
Setting an overall fastest first sector on her first flying lap, Lydia’s pace was strong and this enabled her to make a smart move on NAPA Racing UK driver Lewis Selby. Her progress through the field continued on lap five as she overtook Joe Tanner and with the Hybrid Tune driver sitting third in the overall championship prior to the weekend, this was an excellent scalp to take.
Lydia was now inside the top-10 and spent the next series of laps attempting to bridge the gap to the drivers ahead, with the slipstreaming effect proving powerful even in the Mini Challenge JCW machines. Walmsley’s pace remained encouraging as the race progressed, however she came under attack from hard-charging debutant Spencer Stevenson with just a few laps remaining. Placing her car well, Lydia held onto the position to score her 11th top-10 finish of the season, crossing the line in tenth.
Conditions were vastly different on Sunday morning for race two, with cool ambient temperatures and a damp track. This made setup choices difficult as all drivers started the race on the wet weather tyres. Lining up an effective ninth following a non-start for a driver ahead, Lydia held her position on the opening lap before going side-by-side across the line with Joe Tanner. Falling in behind her rival, Walmsley’s times were very encouraging in the early stages and this allowed her to pull out a gap behind.
Forward progress was Lydia’s target and after pressurising Josh Porter, she found a way past her rival on lap six. Two laps later, Walmsley overtook Dominic Wheatley for seventh and immediately showed her speed by setting a personal best lap.
A series of fast sectors saw her close in on the drivers ahead and by the halfway mark, Lydia was matching the leading drivers. On lap 12, Walmsley overtook Tanner and set her sights on a maiden top-5 result with Hybrid Tune driver Will Orton separating her from the milestone.
With three laps remaining, Lydia displayed her confidence to make the move and elevate herself to fifth. Continuing to close in on a podium position, Walmsley finished race two in fifth to claim her best ever Mini Challenge JCW result while displaying race-winning pace throughout.
Missing out on the race three reverse grid pole position by just one position, Lydia lined up fifth for the final race at Silverstone. She immediately had to be on her toes to avoid a stalled Nelson King who started immediately ahead of her, navigating the car well to lose just one position. From there, she enjoyed a close battle with Josh Porter and Jamie Osborne, settling into sixth position before building a healthy gap to the drivers behind.
Walmsley’s consistency was key to her performance and she comfortably ran with the leading challengers as she looked set to score another excellent result. Taking the checkered flag in sixth, a track limits penalty demoted Lydia to ninth in the overall classification. Nonetheless, she displayed excellent speed once again to round off a hat-trick of top-10 results at Silverstone.
Lydia’s impressive performances at Silverstone mean she leaves the penultimate round of the championship tenth in the championship standings, remaining within striking distance of the next four drivers ahead. Achieving a breakthrough result in race two highlighted the progress of the Lydia Walmsley Racing team who made a great setup decision in tough conditions.
Lapping on pace with the leading drivers will fill Walmsley with confidence heading into the final round of the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge season which takes place on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on the weekend of 7th/8th October.