Season’s best results for Liona Theobald at Donington Park
With a fourth and a fifth place finish at Donington Park, Liona Theobald enjoyed her best weekend to date in the Ginetta GT Championship – in a significant step up that suggests that a podium might be within touching distance.
Liona Theobald enjoyed her best weekend to date in the Ginetta GT Championship with two top-five finishes at Donington Park. Liona’s pace was evident from pre-event testing, lapping within one second of the leading drivers in the GT Pro category. Race two saw Theobald score her best result to date, with a superb fourth place finish, before backing this up with a fifth place finish in race three.
Liona’s circuit racing career began last season where she completed a full programme of racing in the highly competitive Ginetta Junior Championship. Driving for Assetto Motorsport, Theobald finished the season 23rd in the overall standings with a best result of 13th coming in race one at Snetterton.
Exploring options for the following season, Liona contested the final round of the 2022 Ginetta GT5 Challenge with Elite Motorsport at Donington Park. Competing in a Ginetta G40 with additional power and slick tyres compared to her Ginetta Junior machine, Theobald successfully made the step up and secured a best result of 10th during the weekend.
For the 2023 season, Liona made the decision to step up to the newly reconfigured Ginetta GT Championship, driving a Ginetta G56 in the GT Pro category. Despite the significant increase in speed, it has been a smooth transition for Liona who achieved a best result of sixth in the opening five races of the season driving for SVG Motorsport, sitting seventh in the championship standing prior to Donington Park.
Arriving into the weekend targeting her first top-5 finish of the season, Liona benefited from taking part in the pre-event test sessions on Friday. Theobald completed 34 laps across the day and showed extremely good speed, ending the day sixth fastest in GT Pro and only eight tenths of a second away from the fastest time.
Liona was hoping to replicate this strong performance heading into the 20 minute qualifying session for the Ginetta GT Pro drivers. Steadily improving her times throughout the session, Theobald set a fastest lap of a 1:37.428 which was the seventh fastest time in GT Pro, with her second fastest time also placing her seventh in class.
Starting race one from the fourth row of the grid, Liona made a clean start and ended lap one in sixth following a pit lane start for rival Ruben Hage. She held this position in the opening stages, before making inroads on the leaders on lap three, setting a lap time fastest than the four cars directly ahead of her. Theobald was then engaged in a close battle with Colin White and a recovering Hage, before a spin at the Old Hairpin on lap six dropped Liona down to eighth.
Nonetheless, she fought hard in the closing stages to remain in eighth, setting her two fastest lap times in the final three laps of the race, including her fastest on lap 13 which was one tenth of a second quicker than her best qualifying effort.
Liona lined up on row three for the second race of the weekend and made a great start, immediately challenging for the podium places. Contact with Colin White at Coppice on lap one saw Theobald drop to sixth with the safety car also deployed. The SVG Motorsport driver was nursing a little damage for the remainder of the race but this did not prevent her from making progress, overtaking Shawn Fleming at the restart. By lap five, Liona was up to fourth in the GT Pro category and was able to hold this position to the checkered flag to score her best result in the championship to date.
This strong finish meant Theobald lined up fourth for the final race of the weekend. An unfortunate spin towards the end of the first lap dropped Liona to sixth in the GT Pro class, making her way through the GT5 traffic in the following two laps. On lap seven the safety car was deployed which gave Theobald the chance to catch up with the drivers ahead and potentially move forward. Liona passed Fleming on lap nine and maintained her top-5 spot to the finish, rounding off a positive weekend for the young driver.
“Overall I had a really positive weekend at Donington Park achieving good results for the championship!", Theobald told us. "The team did an amazing job and worked hard to give me the best car possible!"
Liona should be encouraged by her continued progress in the Ginetta GT Championship, a significant step up from her previous campaign in the Ginetta Junior Championship. Her first podium is within touching distance with Theobald now up to fifth in the GT Pro standings ahead of the inaugural Ginetta G-Fest at Silverstone next weekend.
"Donington has always been one of my favourite tracks, but now it is full focus on Silverstone for Ginetta’s G Fest this weekend”, Liona concluded.
Drivers will contest six races across both the Grand Prix and National layouts with Liona hoping to build upon her performances on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit earlier this season.