Best result of P12 for Joe Tanner at baking hot Snetterton 300 Circuit
Lydia Walmsley takes hat-trick of P4 finishes in Rookie Class at home track
Touring car squad BTC Racing takes positives from debut MINI weekend
Scorching hot Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk provided the venue for the opening three rounds of the MINI CHALLENGE season over the weekend, 12th/13th June, where BTC Racing put together a series of positive performances on its debut appearance in the one-make championship.
Running cars for Joe Tanner and Lydia Walmsley in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship feeder series this year, BTC Racing took away a best outright finish of 12th courtesy of Tanner. The team’s ‘Young Driver Programme’ racer Walmsley, getting her maiden season in the BTCC support category underway at her ‘home’ track, chalked-up a hat-trick of top four results in the Rookie Class.
Both Morris Lubricants-liveried MINIs made progress in round one on Saturday afternoon, after a challenging qualifying session. Tanner moved up from 19th on the grid to finish in 16th place, while Walmsley took the chequered flag in 24th position – also a gain of three places on her starting slot.
Scottish racer Tanner, who finished sixth in the Graduate Class, spent much of the 10-lap contest as part of an eight-car train queued up behind Bradley Gravett, with very little to split the drivers. In the sister BTC Racing car, Walmsley was part of a smaller group jostling behind Paul Taylor and she ended her first race in the headline MINI championship fourth in the Rookie class.
The finishing order from race one set the grid for round two on Sunday morning, again taking place under glorious blue skies, but with the car of Robbie Dalgleish unable to take the start Tanner and Walmsley effectively lined-up an enhanced 15th and 23rd.
Gaining two positions on lap one, Tanner climbed into the top 12 on the second tour before slipping back to 13th on lap four behind Jason Lockwood. Staying there for the remainder of the 10-lap race, Tanner was elevated into 12th at the conclusion due to a five-second time penalty for Lockwood. He also sealed fourth in the Graduate class.
Walmsley held station on the opening lap, also fourth in the Rookie battle, before moving into 22nd on lap two. Into the second half of the race, drama for two rivals enabled her to break into the outright top 20 where she remained to the flag. In terms of pace, Walmsley’s quickest lap time was only 0.3 seconds shy of Tanner’s best to confirm her progress.
Round three – broadcast live on ITV4 – started frustratingly for Tanner after being bundled back from 12th on the grid to 17th place on lap one. Hitting back impressively, he was into 16th place ahead of a Safety Car period on lap four and then continued to climb through the order.
Following the re-start on lap five, Tanner moved into the top 15 a lap later and then took 14th place the next time around. Grabbing 13th position with just over a lap to go, he stayed there to the flag and also claimed fifth in the Graduate class.
Starting on the 10th row of the grid, Walmsley enjoyed a good beginning to the last race of the day and moved up into 17th position overall and third in the Rookie class prior to the intervention by the Safety Car. During the second half of the encounter, the Ipswich driver did slip back a few places and so ended up fourth in the Rookie battle once again and in 21st position overall.
Rounds four, five and six of the MINI CHALLENGE will be contested at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent just two weeks from now, over the weekend 26th/27th June. Once again, the championship will run as support to the BTCC.