Lydia Walmsley bounces back from Knockhill nightmare with Croft podium
Tremendous Rookie Cup top three in Rd13 and season-best P11 overall
Misfortune for Joe Tanner after race one damage rules him out of race two
Lydia Walmsley produced her best drive of the MINI CHALLENGE season so far at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on Sunday, 19th September, with a fantastic Rookie Cup podium for BTC Racing during an action-packed round 13.
Finishing fourth in class and 20th overall in round 12 on Saturday, 18th September, the Ipswich racer delivered an outstanding performance in race two – broadcast live across the UK on ITV4 – to hit back superbly from a nightmare weekend at Knockhill in Scotland last time out.
Following an early red flag stoppage due to a major incident on lap one, Walmsley impressed after the re-start in her Morris Lubricants liveried MINI. Showing terrific racecraft, the BTC ‘Young Driver Programme’ racer climbed through to finish in 11th position overall and third in the Rookie class.
Team-mate Joe Tanner was the one to experience huge frustration this time around, when damage sustained in a race one incident ruled him out of the second contest. Tanner had been just 0.4 seconds shy of pole position in qualifying, underlining what might have been for the Scotsman.
Mixed fortunes for BTC Racing at Croft
Tanner’s hopes were justifiably high for round 12 on Saturday, having lapped only four tenths of a second shy of grid-topping pace. Starting on the sixth row of the grid, when Jason Lockwood stopped on the formation lap Tanner was effectively elevated into 10th on the grid. His involvement, though, only lasted a lap when contact at the hairpin led to retirement at Hawthorn at the start of lap two.
In the sister BTC car, Walmsley concluded the opening tour in her starting slot of 23rd before gaining two places on lap two – one due to Tanner pulling off the track and the other coming after passing Stephen James. As Lockwood moved through the order from a pitlane start Walmsley was edged back a spot, but she recovered a place by moving ahead of Callum Newsham on lap five.
Newsham got back ahead and then a moment on lap seven meant Walmsley slipped two seconds adrift of her rival. Quickly regaining the lost ground, closing to within 0.6 seconds inside a lap, she wasn’t able to challenge Newsham but did gain two places before the flag on lap 13 – Lockwood dropped back and she pipped Bradley Gravett on the line to take 20th overall and fourth Rookie.
With Tanner unable to race on Sunday, all of BTC Racing’s hopes lay with Walmsley and she certainly didn’t disappoint. Lining-up 20th on the grid due to her race one result, the start to round 13 was nothing short of chaotic with multi-car incidents at Clervaux and the chicane.
Leading to the Safety Car emerging for lap two, Walmsley had threaded her way brilliantly past the drama and impressively climbed into 14th overall and third in the Rookies before the action was red flagged due to the number of damaged, stranded cars on track.
The race was re-started on lap four behind the Safety Car and Walmsley quickly gained another outright position. Although edged back to 14th again on lap six, the BTC racer continued to lap very strongly and on the seventh tour she leapt into the outright top 12 after a tangle between Brad Hutchison and Lockwood.
Walmsley wasn’t finished there either and over a dramatic final lap she grabbed 11th place overall on the sprint to the chequered flag – wrapping up a fantastic top three finish in the Rookie class and, by far, the best performance of her maiden year in the premier JCW class of the MINI CHALLENGE.
I definitely feel as though Croft has been a turning point for me. A personal best in this championship of P11 in Race 2 which I'm really happy about and I can't wait for hopefully some more progression at Donington Park in 3 weeks time! I'd like to say a massive thankyou to the team for everything they've done for me this weekend and the whole of the season so far!
We didn’t have a lot of luck at Croft this weekend during the race, but we did make some good steps forward with the cars. I was tapped into another car during race one ended my race on the opening lap. The team worried tirelessly to get the car fixed and ready for race two, only for another issue to stop us making the grid for race two. Tough weekend, but everyone at BTC worked so hard, and I am so grateful for all they are doing this year to give me a good car.
Zoe Timbrell - BTC Racing MINI Challenge Team Manager
We arrived at Croft with a fresh memory of how motorsport can be cruel and amazing at the same time. Croft delivered similar highs and lows for BTC Racing, however we have shown strong pace again this weekend and answered some more questions with the cars. Lydia achieved her best finish in the championship with a P11, following some great battles in the race, she really deserved this. Unfortunately Joe’s race ended lap one following an on track incident, and despite working hard to fix the car, he had to withdraw from race two when another part broke on the way to the grid. Disappointing results, but plenty of positives to focus on from the three days of running.
Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire will host the penultimate event of the MINI CHALLENGE season, rounds 14, 15 and 16, over the weekend 9th/10th October.
MINI CHALLENGE Drivers’ Championship
15th Joe Tanner, 232pts; 24th Lydia Walmsley, 163pts
MINI CHALLENGE Teams Championship
9th BTC Racing, 395pts
MINI CHALLENGE Graduate Cup
7th Joe Tanner, 232pts
MINI CHALLENGE Rookie Cup
6th Lydia Walmsley, 163pts