Lydia Walmsley has continued her progress in the Junior Saloon Car Championship with a positive weekend at Pembrey. Changeable conditions made the weekend extremely treacherous for all the drivers, with very limited dry weather running at the Welsh circuit. Despite this, Walmsley was able to secure two top-10 finishes after a pair of action-packed races in which her attacking and defensive abilities were tested. Lydia should gain good confidence from the weekend as she proved she was able to compete with a good selection of drivers at a challenging circuit which she’d never visited before.
Lydia’s meeting began on Friday with the drivers given a number of test session to learn the unique Pembrey circuit. Conditions were mainly wet but this gave drivers an opportunity to slowly build themselves up in what was set to be a changeable weekend in terms of weather conditions. Saturday morning practice took place with damp conditions as Lydia improved her lap times throughout the 20-minute session. Working her way inside the top-10 halfway into practice, Walmsley was gaining a good feel for the track as conditions improved slightly. Towards the end of the session, Lydia once again improved and ended practice in an encouraging 7th position ahead of qualifying.
Qualifying took place shortly after with dry conditions meaning lap times were set to be faster than in morning practice. It didn’t take Lydia long to set her best lap of the weekend as times were being exchanged quickly just inside the top-10. Walmsley’s consistency was particularly impressive as she continued to set times within just a couple tenths of her overall best, an encouraging sign for the races ahead. At the end of the session, Lydia set the 10th fastest time, however being less than a second away from the top-5 would give her extra cause for optimism with two races to come the following day.
Race one began on Sunday morning with a damp, but drying track making setup decisions difficult ahead of what was to be a 12-lap race. Starting from ninth courtesy of a grid penalty for a driver ahead, Lydia made a good start and moved into eighth at the end of an action-packed first lap. Making a move on a fast-starting Alicia Goundry for seventh on lap two, Walmsley was hoping to make further progress in the coming laps. Unfortunately, she slipped back to 10th by lap four as the drivers around her were showing good pace in the tough conditions. Learning with every lap, Lydia continued to improve her lap times and after some good defensive driving, she was able to capitalise on an incident ahead which promoted her to eighth. Walmsley held this position in the closing stages to collect valuable points and maximise the performance she had with a patient drive which was rewarded with a positive result.
Lydia started in ninth place for the second race of the weekend due to her second-best time set in qualifying. Making her best start of the weekend, Walmsley moved into sixth position at the end of the first lap with some smart driving. Heading into turn one on the second lap, Lydia was hit hard from behind by a fellow driver who had misjudged his braking point, leading to significant damage with the safety car being brought out for a stranded car. Lydia made it back to the pits and was able to re-join despite falling to the back of the field, however she remained on the lead lap and was able to restart with the main pack of drivers. It was a good restart for Lydia who was showing some of her best speed of the weekend in spite of the damage as she passed Charlotte Birch and George Smith on the first lap of green flag racing. Running close to her qualifying pace, Walmsley applied the pressure but was unable to gain any further positions, ending the race in 10th. Despite the unscheduled pit stop, it was still a positive result for Lydia who made good improvements from the first race of the weekend in terms of her pace.
Lydia coped admirably with the tough conditions coming off the back of a challenging summer in the Junior Saloon Car Championship. Always in the thick of the action, Walmsley has developed her racecraft and learnt valuable information regarding car setup which will come in useful throughout her racing career. Just two rounds remain in this season’s Junior Saloon Car Championship with Donington Park next up on the first weekend in September, before a trip to Brands Hatch for the finale where the nine round season will conclude.