Home pride for Scotland’s Joe Tanner with maiden MINI Challenge podium
BTC driver converts top three qualifying into P3 result in Knockhill Rd9
Luckless weekend north of the border for team-mate Lydia Walmsley
Scottish racer Joe Tanner delivered a fantastic performance for BTC Racing to secure his, and the team’s, first podium finish in the MINI CHALLENGE over the weekend at his home track – Knockhill Circuit in Fife.
On a memorable day for the Brackley squad, Tanner impressed in qualifying with the third fastest time in his Morris Lubricants-liveried MINI JCW and went on to convert that into a top three overall race finish during round nine on Saturday, 14th August.
In the two subsequent races on Sunday, 15th August, Tanner was ninth in round 10 when some damage ended another podium challenge and in a shortened round 11 later in the day he finished in eighth position.
Conversely, Lydia Walmsley experienced a hugely frustrating trip to Scotland with nothing but bad luck. First dropping out of round nine after contact, fantastic work by the BTC team mechanics repaired her car in time for Sunday’s action. Incredibly, though, engine woes prevented the BTC ‘Young Driver Programme’ racer from taking the start and she subsequently missed race three too.
Richly deserved maiden podium for Tanner in race one
Knockhill specialist Tanner delivered by far his best qualifying performance of the season, lapping third quickest in Saturday’s session with a time of 54.667 seconds (83.43mph) putting him little more than a tenth of a second shy of pole position. Team-mate Walmsley, meanwhile, was the fourth fastest of the Rookie class drivers with a lap of 56.110 seconds (81.28mph) placing her 24th overall.
With a podium challenge in his sights, Tanner made a great start to round nine on Saturday afternoon and moved ahead of fellow Graduate class racer Jason Lockwood into second before shadowing pole-position starter Dan Zelos and then momentarily taking the lead into the hairpin.
After Zelos cut-back to reclaim first place at the exit, Tanner stayed with him before being elbowed back to fourth on lap three behind Lockwood and Jack Davidson. Determined to break back into the top three, Tanner passed Davidson on lap nine for third and remained there for the duration to seal his richly deserved first podium – also claiming second in the Graduate class.
In the sister Morris Lubricants car, Walmsley concluded lap one in her grid spot of 24th place before starting to pick-off rivals impressively with every lap. Driving well and into 21st position by lap four, bitter disappointment then followed on lap seven when the BTC Racing MINI departed from the race after an incident with Bradley Gravett at Duffus Dip – leaving a badly damaged BTC MINI.
Despite tremendous work overnight by the team mechanics to get Walmsley’s car repaired, she was still unable to take the start of round 10 on Sunday morning due to engine problems. Tanner, therefore, was the sole BTC representative in the race and he made a good launch from the second row. Due to an incident further back, though, the action was red flagged.
At the second time of asking he got away well again from third on the grid and moved up into second place. Coming under pressure from Davidson at the end of the opening lap and into the second tour, Tanner was robustly edged back to third before the Safety Car was required.
Action resumed on lap seven and Tanner’s race unraveled after [picking up some damage ???]. Slipping out of the podium placings on lap 10, he eventually concluded the race on lap 14 an unrepresentative ninth and fifth in class.
For race three, round 11, Walmsley was sadly forced to sit-out the encounter due to the earlier difficulties so Tanner once again carried team honour. Lining-up ninth on the grid, he started cleanly and moved up into eighth position but the action was swiftly brought under Safety Car conditions due to a tangle further back on the starting grid.
Racing resumed on lap five with Tanner in eighth, right in the thick of the action, and although edged back a place on the seventh tour he hit back to re-take eighth two laps later. On lap 15 the Safety Car was required again, after an incident at the hairpin, and the chequered flag was duly shown the next time around with Tanner credited with eight and fourth in the Graduates.
“I am really happy with the progress we have made this weekend, and am so pleased to have been able to repay the team with their first podium in the championship. At lot of hard work has gone into setting the team up this year, and I hope it is the first podium of many. We took huge steps this weekend and I can’t wait to get back in the car at Croft for the next round.”
Zoe Timbrell – BTC Racing MINI CHALLENGE Team Manager:
“It was great for us to be able to secure that first top three qualifying and first podium of the MINI CHALLENGE season, especially as the team is so new. We are on a steep learning curve with the cars, and are really starting to see the rewards of all the hard work. We turned a corner at Knockhill this weekend, and seeing Joe [Tanner] on the podium at his home round was amazing.
“It was a tough weekend for Lydia [Walmsley] as, through no fault of her own, she was collected in an accident in race one and the car sustained a lot of damage. Prior to the incident she had been making good progress and showed great race pace. Whilst it is painful to retire any car from a race weekend, there are so many positives to take away and we will be back stronger for Croft.”
North Yorkshire’s Croft Circuit will host the next two rounds of MINI CHALLENGE action over the weekend 18th/19th September.
MINI CHALLENGE Drivers’ Championship
13th Joe Tanner, 217pts; 28th Lydia Walmsley, 124pts
MINI CHALLENGE Teams Championship
9th BTC Racing, 356pts
MINI CHALLENGE Graduate Cup
6th Joe Tanner, 217pts
MINI CHALLENGE Rookie Cup
7th Lydia Walmsley, 124pts