Frustration for Joe Tanner in Donington race three as incident costs class win
Otherwise consistent outing gives BTC Racing driver double Graduate top four
Lydia Walmsley hits back from race one troubles to take top six Rookie best
BTC Racing’s MINI CHALLENGE squad made more strong progress during the penultimate event of its first season in the one-make championship at Donington Park over the weekend, 9th/10th October, with Joe Tanner incredibly unlucky not to claim a deserved Graduate class victory in round 16.
On course to seal the win with just two laps to go in race three of the weekend on Sunday, the Scottish driver’s involvement ended in the Redgate gravel after an unfortunate racing incident.
In the two preceding races, Tanner took fourth in class in both with a best overall finish of
Lydia Walmsley started off with a non-finish for the Brackley team in round 14 on Saturday due to car troubles, before finishing sixth in the Rookie class in round 15 and round 16. The BTC Racing ‘Young Driver Programme’ racer also charged to a highlight 18th position overall in race three.
Tanner and Walmsley happy with Donington progress
Qualifying pace for the BTC Racing duo was strong during Saturday morning’s session, with Tanner posting the 11th fastest time overall and Walmsley lapping inside the overall top 20 and sixth in the Rookie class – only 0.4 seconds shy of her more experienced team-mate.
Elevated to 10th on the grid for round 14, due to a penalty for a rival from the previous event at Croft, Tanner pieced together a great first lap and moved up into eighth overall and third in the Graduate class.
Although edged back to ninth by Dan Zelos on lap three and then slipping back to 10th on lap seven, Tanner remained on course for the Graduate podium before a late-race Safety Car intervention – the reason for which was a luckless retirement for the sister BTC car.
Walmsley did lose a bit of ground on lap one and by the fourth tour she was in 25th position and sixth in the Rookie class. Benefiting from a false start time penalty for Stephen James, on lap 10 it all went wrong for Walmsley when her car expired and she had to pull off the circuit at the pitlane exit.
Following the resulting Safety Car, Tanner held 11th place and fourth in the Graduates at the re-start on lap 13 and remained there to the finish a lap later. Pace-wise, the Scotsman was just a tenth of a second shy of podium performance with a best race lap of 1m14.694 seconds.
In round 15 on Sunday morning Tanner held 11th position off the start and although slipping back to 13th place during the first few laps, the Scot jumped back into 11th spot on the seventh tour – and fourth in the Graduate class – after dramas for three rivals.
Edged back to 12th position when Bobby Thompson moved by on lap nine, Tanner then remained in the overall top 12 and fourth in the Graduates to the chequered flag on lap 17 – spending the latter part of the race swarming outside the top 10 battle, just a couple of tenths of a second shy.
Walmsley began race two from an elevated 28th but slipped a place on lap one, before beginning to make progress. Rising through into 26th position overall by lap five, the Suffolk driver profited – like Tanner did – on lap seven due to dramas for others and gained two places into 24th spot.
From just after mid-distance, a great battle ensued with Liam Lambert as the pair traded places on several occasions. Scrapping hard over 23rd position, while Lambert did manage to get ahead a drop down the order for James Griffith meant Walmsley finished in 23rd place and sixth in the Rookie Cup. Impressively, her best lap of 1m14.659 seconds was a tenth faster than Tanner’s quickest.
Deserved Graduate win slips through Tanner’s fingers
Tanner looked all set to claim an excellent Graduate class victory in round 16 on Sunday afternoon, but a luckless excursion into the Redgate gravel on the penultimate tour meant a disappointing retirement for the No.24 BTC Racing car.
Lining-up 12th on the grid, Tanner aced the start and rocketed into eighth place overall before the field headed into Redgate for the first time. Gaining two more places shortly after to climb into the top six, leading the Graduate class too, the Scotsman delivered a lap one masterclass.
As a result of several chaotic incidents on the opening tour, the Safety Car was deployed the next time around with racing not resuming until lap seven. While Tanner was in sixth overall, Walmsley had progressed nicely too from 22nd on the grid and at the resumption she was 19th overall and fifth in the Rookie battle.
Tanner pressured Zelos initially after the re-start but on lap nine Thompson passed the BTC car out of the Old Hairpin. Repelling an attack from compatriot Ru Clark, Tanner continued in seventh but on lap 13 his hopes ended in a cloud of dust at Redgate after an unfortunate racing incident.
Walmsley was edged back to 20th place but moved back again into 19th on lap nine and when her team-mate exited the encounter two laps from home, she climbed into 18th position overall and stayed there to the flag – sixth in the Rookie class and just 0.1 seconds behind Bradley Gravett.
“We have had a really positive weekend with a lot learned and some real progress made to take to Brands Hatch. Obviously, a massive thank you to the team for their continued support and hard work all weekend at Donington.”
“It was a tricky weekend, however I have really enjoyed racing at Donington – a circuit which I’ve not always liked. We made a lot of improvements in terms of pace and continue to close the gap with regards to the pace of the front-runners. I want to say a big thank you to BTC Racing for their hard work and late nights this weekend, as ever.”
Zoe Timbrell – BTC Racing MINI CHALLENGE Team Manager:
“It has been great to be back out on track with the MINI CHALLENGE JCWs this weekend. Lydia has again shown strong race pace but was unfortunate to have a few issues hinder her progress. Joe had a good qualifying session, which saw him racing in the top 15 all weekend. Unfortunately, he was involved in a racing incident in the final race which denied him the great finish he deserved, but we still take a lot of positives away. We have high hopes we’ll finish the season on a high at Brands.”
Rounds 17, 18 and 19 of the MINI CHALLENGE season, the final three races of the campaign, will be contested at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent just a fortnight from now over the weekend 23rd/24th October.
MINI CHALLENGE Drivers’ Championship
15th Joe Tanner, 281pts; 24th Lydia Walmsley, 197pts
MINI CHALLENGE Teams Championship
9th BTC Racing, 478pts
MINI CHALLENGE Graduate Cup
7th Joe Tanner, 281pts
MINI CHALLENGE Rookie Cup
6th Lydia Walmsley, 197pts