One driver to watch during the upcoming season will be Junior Saloon Car Championship driver Lydia Walmsley. An extremely accomplished karter, Lydia made her car racing debut at Knockhill in September and was immediately on the pace despite her relative lack of experience in the series. This is made even more impressive by the fact that she was racing as a privateer with no teammates to work with or to gain setup information from. By continuing her impressive performances karting at her local track of Ellough Park, Walmsley ensured she was race ready heading into her debut weekend. With strong performances at both Knockhill and the season finale at Silverstone, Lydia is in a great position to continue her progression as she’ll return to the series in 2017.
Lydia’s karting career prior to her car racing debut was highly impressive with a number of victories and championships to her name at Ellough Park. These accolades led to her being nominated for Karting Magazine’s female driver of the year award, following her Minimax championship winning year in 2015. Walmsley has followed that up with multiple victories this year with the step up in class not stopping her success, ending the year as the Ellough Park Kart Club Junior Rotax champion. Lydia will hope the speed she has shown in karting will translate into car racing as she competes full time in the Junior Saloon Car Championship next season.
Walmsley competed in the final two rounds of the Junior Saloon Car Championship season in 2016, starting her car racing career north of the border at Knockhill. A demanding circuit with a mixture of high and low speed corners, Knockhill was to prove a challenge for Lydia as conditions proved changeable throughout the weekend. Despite this, Walmsley coped admirable and after qualifying in 18th, she performed well in both races to collect a pair of 18th place finishes out of a strong 20 car field. Lydia’s lap times improved considerably during the meeting and with no incidents to speak of, it was a great start to her Junior Saloon Car Championship campaign.
The season finale took place at Silverstone with Lydia aiming for further improvements in order to end the year on a high. With an even stronger and closer field, Walmsley was set for a tough challenge but qualified a respectable 23rd. Race one took place in treacherous conditions but Lydia handled them extremely well by slowly moving through the field, finishing in a career best 16th. Dry conditions led to a thrilling finale with Walmsley setting her personal best lap of the weekend to collect her second top-20 finish of the meeting. Completing every lap of the final two rounds is a superb achievement for Lydia considering her experience of the car and circuits she was racing at.
With these impressive performances coming from her first two weekends in the series, Lydia will be satisfied with her progress heading into the winter break. Aiming to secure further sponsorship for the upcoming season, Lydia will also hope to complete some pre-season testing to ensure she is on the pace for her first full season of car racing. It will still be a huge learning curve in 2017 for Walmsley, but she has already shown the pace which will ensure she is fighting higher up the order. Regular top-10 finishes should be the initial goal for Lydia, with top-5’s and podiums being realistically attainable as the season progresses.