Lydia Walmsley has completed her first full season in the Junior Saloon Car Championship with a positive weekend at Brands Hatch. Fighting adversity in testing and qualifying, Lydia was aiming for a strong race day and delivered a pair of excellent showings to finish eighth in race one, followed by a superb recovery drive in the second race to finish in ninth after contact from behind early on. This ensured Walmsley finished well inside the top-10 in the overall standings, narrowly missing out on a top-5 placing.
Lydia arrived into the weekend aiming to end the season on a high, but suffered an early setback as a failure in Friday testing led to a high-speed off at Paddock Hill bend. Nonetheless, the team worked hard and ensured Walmsley was out for opening practice on Saturday where she recorded the seventh fastest time. The drivers were given a second practice session ahead of qualifying which Lydia took full advantage of by completing 13 further laps and setting the 10th fastest time of the drivers who contested the session.
Qualifying took place later that afternoon with Lydia aiming to set her best times of the weekend. Red flags interrupted the session early on as some of her rivals pushed the limits in the final meeting of a hotly contested season with the championship still up for grabs. Slowly improving her times during the 15-minute session, Walmsley qualified 12th for both races, achieving her best time of the weekend in the process. It was a great effort from Lydia who had never competed in a race weekend at Brands Hatch before, as well as suffering from a fuel issue as the session came to an end.
An overnight stewards decision led to two competitors being excluded from the weekend, promoting Lydia to 10th on the grid for the opening race. Walmsley made a fantastic start and almost entered the top-5 entering Paddock Hill for the first time, crossing the line in seventh at the end of lap one. A thrilling battle with Liam Thompson followed as Lydia defended admirably from her rival in the opening stages, fending off a number of attacks. Thompson finally breached Walmsley’s defence on lap 12, with Lydia tucking in close behind to ensure she would be ready to pounce if her rival made a mistake. Fending off Thorburn Astin in the closing stages, Lydia crossed the line in eighth to claim a solid finish given the earlier setbacks in the weekend.
Once again lining up on the fifth row of the grid, Lydia made another excellent start to begin race two and moved into eighth at the end of the opening lap. After some close battles early on, Walmsley gained two positions on lap six with her next target being George Smith. Unfortunately, Astin took an ambitious lunge to overtaking Lydia shortly after, with a nice save from Walmsley enabling her to continue in 11th. Lydia soon began her fightback by passing Charlotte Birch on lap 11, followed by Bailey Bateman on lap 14. Walmsley was even able to get back to the bumper of Astin in the closing stages, just coming up short of being able to make a move on her rival. This meant Lydia crossed the line in ninth, a solid end to the weekend in a race which saw her run her best lap of the weekend.
Brands Hatch proved to be a successful weekend for Lydia as she demonstrated great racecraft in both races to attack and defend her positions. Walmsley finishes the Junior Saloon Car Championship season as one of the highest rookie drivers and this is testament to her talent behind the wheel. Lydia is still finalising her plans for the 2018 season, but it is sure to be a positive next step for the talented young driver’s career.