Lydia Walmsley continues her progress at Snetterton

The Junior Saloon Car Championship moved to Lydia’s home race at Snetterton for the fourth round of the series where the young driver experienced a mixed bag of results. After showing strong pace over practice and qualifying, Walmsley translated this into a positive sixth place result in the opening race of the weekend. A podium result could’ve been on the cards in race two but contact forced Lydia to pit with damage, inflicting her second retirement of the season.

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Lydia Walmsley achieved a best result of sixth at Snetterton in the Junior Saloon Car Championship. Photo Credit – Tilley Photography

After a couple of short test sessions the previous day, Lydia took to the track for the first Junior Saloon Car Championship practice session on Saturday morning. With traffic not an issue due to the long lap times, Walmsley could get a good feel of the car ahead of qualifying later in the day. During the 15 minute session, Lydia was able to complete six laps with her quickest time good enough for fourth fastest overall, a very encouraging start to the weekend.

Qualifying took place later in the afternoon with Lydia aiming for her best result of the season to date at her home track. Making a strong start to the session, Walmsley was up in third at the halfway point of the 20 minute session and was looking good for her best performance of the season to date. With some late improvements from the drivers around her, Lydia set the sixth fastest time to line up on the third row of the grid, a good position ready to pounce during the races to come.

Race one took place later that day and was quickly red flagged on the initial start following a mechanical problem for Charlotte Birch. On the second start, Lydia good a superb getaway and moved into fourth place as she kept in touch with the lead group. After being passed by Ethan Hammerton on lap three, Walmsley held her position inside the top-5 and resisted the challenge from Sam Kirkpatrick. However, on lap five the second year driver found his way through and pushed Lydia into sixth, a position which she held to the finish to collect valuable championship points. Lydia drove a particularly smart race to finish in sixth, which would also be the position she would be set to start in race two.

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Lydia received tips from driver coach Joe Tanner prior to the weekend, enabling her to fulfil her potential during the meeting. Photo Credit – Lydia Walmsley Racing

Starting from the third row of the grid, Lydia was looking for another good start in hope of a podium finish at her home circuit. Once again, Walmsley gained positions on the opening lap to move up into fifth position. With lots of action taking place between the leaders, Lydia held fifth position on lap two and could sense an opportunity to move forward. Unfortunately, she sustained damage the following lap which forced her to pit and retire the car, a disappointing end to the weekend in which Walmsley showed good promise and ability to run with the lead pack. Despite the retirement, Lydia should be pleased with her performances which saw her compete with more experienced drivers in their second full year, learning with each passing weekend.

Lydia’s weekend at Snetterton once again proved she has the pace to contend for podiums and even victories, slowly narrowing the margin to the drivers ahead. A smart drive in race one where Walmsley used her racecraft to ensure a good finish, shouldn’t be overshadowed by the retirement in race two when running inside the top-5. Lydia’s one target for improvement over the first three meetings could’ve been her starts, however by gaining places on the opening laps in both races at Snetterton shows the young driver is ready to make the next step. The Junior Saloon Car Championship now takes a short break before returning early next month at Knockhill, the circuit which Lydia made her debut at last season.

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Challenging weekend for Katie Milner at Thruxton

Thruxton hosted the third round of the Ginetta GT5 Challenge with Katie Milner looking to continue her strong form shown at Rockingham the previous week. Having never raced at Thruxton before, the meeting was always going to be a challenge but Milner showed her talent by mixing it in the top half of the field. After qualifying inside the top-15, results of 23rd and 18th weren’t indicative of Katie’s strong pace following incidents in both races. However, Milner will be extremely pleased with her race starts, where she gained a combined 15 positions on the opening laps of the races.

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Katie took on the challenge Thruxton Circuit for the third round of the Ginetta GT5 Challenge. Photo Credit – Marc Waller

Qualifying at Thruxton took place on Saturday morning with Katie hoping for gain further familiarity with the circuit and slowly improve her times. Following some more experience drivers during the opening part of the session, Milner showed good speed and moved inside the top-15 of a hugely talented 26 car field. Setting consistent lap times to close out the session, Katie set the 15th fastest time, less than two seconds away from pole. This was a great effort from the Team One Call driver who showed good pace at a very difficult circuit which is unique to anything she may have driven at previously.

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Katie qualified inside the top-15 on her first visit to the unique Hampshire track. Photo Credit – Marc Waller

After her impressive opening laps at Rockingham, Katie was looking to continue her impressive racecraft in the early stages at Thruxton. She did just that by rising up to ninth on the opening lap, once again avoiding the first lap drama and moving up through the field. After losing out to Max Bird on lap three, Milner had a spin which dropped her to the rear of the field but she was determined to recover and gain valuable points. Without a safety car or a draft from other drivers, it was a tough battle to regain track position, however, Katie did a great job in gaining three positions in the closing stages to end the first race in 23rd position. Thruxton was always going to be a challenge for Milner who was making her debut at the Hampshire circuit but she knew there would be opportunities to move forward during the televised race two.

Lining up on the twelfth row of the grid following her finish in race one, Katie was looking for another impressive start to catapult up the order. With a number of incidents on the opening lap, Milner was able to gain six places and end the first lap as the safety car was deployed. When the racing resumed, Katie wasted no time in making up ground as she passed Connor O’Brien for 16th, followed by a double overtake on lap five to move her inside the top-15. The next series of laps saw Milner caught up in a series of battles which dropped her to 18th at the conclusion of lap eight. Despite running a number of consistent lap times, Katie was unable to gain any further positions in the closing stages to end race two in 18th, not the perfect result, but lots of experience gained to take forward into the remainder of the season.

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Katie enjoyed a number of good battles during the weekend, here she is chasing down Ryan Hadfield. Photo Credit – Marc Waller

Although Katie wasn’t able to record the results she deserved at Thruxton, there were still many positives to take away. With the majority of her competitors having some experience of the circuit, mainly in Ginetta Junior’s, it was a credit to Katie’s ability to see her challenging her rivals on her first trip to the unique Hampshire circuit. Milner’s race starts were particularly impressive, smartly avoiding a number of incidents in the opening stages of both races, a skill which will serve her well as the season progress and the racing intensifies. Katie now sits eighth in the championship standings, in just her first season of rear-wheel drive circuit racing, and will be looking forward to the next meeting at Silverstone at the beginning of June.

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Shanel Drewe Leads Croft

16 year old Shanel Drewe continued to make fantastic progress in her second Michelin Clio cup race, leading for most of the first race and securing two strong 2nd place finishes. This brings her tally up to three 2nd place finishes and a 3rd place finish so far this year.

Her team manager, Sean Cassidy, of Damar International and Milltek Sport backed Jade Developments described the first race as perhaps the most exciting he has seen, and this marks another step up for Shanel Drewe.

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Shanel leads her first race at Croft. Photo Credit – Phil Laughton Photography

Starting 3rd on the grid Drewe had a great start and pulled off a brave overtake on the much more experienced Colburn at the end of the fast pit straight by driving round the outside of him through the first corner to take second place. The top three cars of Harrison, Drewe and Colburn then lead the road class in bumper to bumper action.

Shanel had to show both great defending as Colburn tried multiple attempts to claim back second place, whilst she kept first place Harrison in check. On lap three Drewe finally managed to pull alongside Harrison coming out of the chicane and passed him going into Tower Bend.

For the first time in her racing career, Drewe then lead the race with Harrison pushing her all the way, and the Jade Development Team mates pulled away from Colburn to become the main contenders for the race win. Drewe showed phenomenal maturity by holding off Harrison, until the second but last corner on the last lap where Harrison managed to get by in one last attempt, and Shanel finished second.

This was a bitter sweet pill for Shanel, for being so close to a maiden win, but she is very reflective adding, “when racing against a fourth season Clio racer with the experience such as Harrison, I know it will not be easy, but that will make my first win all the better”.

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Shanel was involved in close race action with Nic Harrison. Photo Credit – Phil Laughton Photography

In the second race, again the drivers got off to a fantastic start, and it looked for a moment that the crowds were going to be subject to another thrilling spectacle, but this was sadly not the case as an out of place race class car split the first and second place drivers allowing the front runner Harrison to build a vital 3 second buffer in front. In third and keen to aim for another shot at winning, Drewe again showed fantastic ability by overtaking second placed Colburn going into the Hairpin at the end of the first lap. From there, Drewe’s developing pace become very evident as going into lap two Drewe and Colburn were split by only 0.1 seconds, by lap two this was a clear second, and she continued to be on average a second a lap quicker. This allowed Drewe to build a much needed buffer, but the 3-4 second gap front runner Harrison was able to build in the first lap was as equally important and although Drewe matched Harrisons times, getting to within 0.2 secs of the fast lap of the race, she could only remain a menacing sight in his mirrors, and finished a solid 2nd place.

The team visited Croft without any prior testing, and Shanel’s instructor was unable to make Friday testing, so this feat was achieved against the team’s expectations, and reinforces the base ability and belief Jade Developments and her personal sponsors of Dansoft Aviation Services, Wrapped Up, Witham Oils (sole importers of Motul), City Electrical Factors and Gold Star on Board have saw in her.

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Shanel is looking forward to the next round of the championship where she will be targeting her first victory. Photo Credit – Phil Laughton Photography

Shanel’s maiden win cannot be far away and it looks like she picked the perfect team to develop her ability as Jade Developments not only achieved a double 1-2 finish of the weekend, but their Ginetta GT5 driver Luke Pinder achieved a 6th and 7th place finish at Rockingham, and was actually leading the second race before he was struck from behind and had to retire from the race.

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Impressive showing from Katie Milner at bumper Rockingham weekend

Katie Milner has enjoyed her best weekend in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge to date after showing great improvement at Rockingham. In just her second meeting in the series, Katie collected three top-5 finishes from the four races, including two fourth places results to end the weekend. Despite qualifying in 16th for the opening race, Katie’s race pace was extremely strong which enabled her to move forward and challenge more experienced rivals. Starting from pole in race four due to the reverse grid from the previous race at Oulton Park, Milner narrowly missed out on a podium finish to finish in fourth, but her performances will fill her with confidence heading into the next round at Thruxton this weekend.

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Katie Milner experienced her best weekend to date in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Rockingham. Photo Credit – Marc Waller

After some small test sessions leading up to the weekend, Katie took to the track Saturday afternoon for qualifying at Rockingham. Following her success in the Junior Saloon Car Championship at the circuit, Milner was hoping for a strong performance and was immediately on the pace in the opening laps. As the session progressed, Katie wasn’t able to improve like many other drivers and with the times so close, this led to the Team One Call driver starting the first race from 16th, just eight tenths away from the top-5.

With the times extremely tight, Katie knew progress could be made during the opening race of the weekend, but with three races to come Sunday, minimalizing damage was also a top priority. Milner made a great start and gained three positions on the opening lap to move into 13th as the safety car was deployed to recover Max Bird’s car. Following a lengthy period under the yellow flag, Katie enjoyed some close racing after the restart and held 13th position for the opening three laps. On lap eight Milner made the move for 12th after following Ollie Wilkinson through the field while a number of drivers ahead fought for position. Just one further lap remained, with Katie holding onto 12th to collect valuable championship points and gain much needed experience ahead of three races the following day.

Race two of the weekend took place on Sunday with the grid positions based on the finishing positions from the early race on Saturday. Lining up on the sixth row of the grid, Katie made an excellent start and avoided the first corner drama by staying to the inside and moving up to sixth position. On lap two, Milner was able to pass the fast-starting Matt Palmer and closed onto the back of Xentek Motorsport’s Simon Traves, a driver who Katie would continue to battle throughout the day. Improving her lap times during the middle portion of the race, Milner got within four tenths of her rival before dropping a way slightly in the closing stages. Nevertheless, fifth place was secure and this marked Katie’s best result in the season to date.

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Katie enjoyed a weekend-long battle with Simon Traves, here chasing the Xentek Motorsport driver out of the Tarzan hairpin. Photo Credit – Marc Waller

A quick turnaround between races enabled Katie to keep the momentum she had gained from her season’s best result earlier in the day. A partial reverse grid meant Katie started race three from fourth and once again she made a good start, dropping just one place to the faster drivers behind. By lap three, Milner had been shuffled back to eighth but she knew she had the pace to regain the lost positions as previous race winners Ryan Hadfield and Lewis Brown made their way through the field. An excellent lap six saw Katie gain three positions to regain her position in the top-5, capitalising on the group ahead fighting, while pulling off great moves of her own. Milner was able to also get around Oulton Park race winner Max Bird on the following lap, exerting her strength through the first part of the lap. Despite rapidly gaining time on fellow rookie Ollie Wilkinson in the closing stages, Katie took fourth position and one again improved on her best result in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge.

The fourth and final race of the weekend was the postponed race from Oulton Park where Katie would start from pole, a daunting prospect on just her sixth series start, with a podium position certainly within reach. Dropping back to fourth on the opening lap, Milner knew it would be hard to keep the dominant Hadfield and Brown behind her, with Traves also finding a way through. On lap four, Katie pulled off another incredible move into turn one, this time on Ollie Wilkinson who had moved into fourth on the previous lap. Pressure from behind was alleviated when Wilkinson took a trip through the grass on the following lap, allowing Milner to catch Traves who had been moved down to third. With both drivers running their best laps of the weekend, over half a second in Katie’s case, it was a dash to the flag with one mistake handing the podium to the other driver. However, it was Traves who took the podium ahead of Katie in a brilliant fourth, running the same pace as the leaders in the closing stages. From 16th on the grid in qualifying to challenging for podiums in the final races, it was a fantastic weekend of improvements for Katie who is proving she has what it takes to be considered a serious front-runner in her first year in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge.

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Katie being challenged by Ryan Hadfield after starting the fourth race of the weekend from pole position. Photo Credit – Marc Waller

Katie’s performance at Rockingham was extremely impressive given her experience level driving the Ginetta G40 in comparison to her competitors. Her strength on the brakes and throughout sector one was highly commendable, in addition to her overtaking ability in places such as Gracelands which enabled her to move up through the field. With her ability to improve throughout the weekend, especially during Sunday’s triple header, Katie’s confidence was growing every lap and this meant she was able to improve when some of her rivals faded. However, there is no let-up in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge with the next meeting taking place this weekend at the high-speed Thruxton circuit in support of the British Touring Car Championship.

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Doran remains positive after tough Rockingham opener

Christie Doran enjoyed mixed fortunes in the VAG Trophy opener at Rockingham this weekend. Coming into the weekend as a favourite for the Class B title, Christie showed excellent pace throughout qualifying to line up second, less than half a second away from pole. An incredible start in race one saw her gain ten positions on the opening lap, and despite setting the fastest lap in class, Doran found trouble at turn one in the closing stages of race one to record her first retirement of the season. Unfortunately with a quick turnaround in between races, Christie was unable to take the start for race two, but her pace will give her great cause for optimism. Commenting on her opening weekend, Christie said “I want to take as many positives from the weekend. That may seem hard after such a big crash but I was happy with my pace and Slidesports had given me a great car. For my first time at Rockingham the weekend was going really well, obviously until the big accident”.

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Christie Doran showed good promise in the VAG Trophy opener at Rockingham. Photo Credit – Lewis Houghton

After a positive period of testing, Christie was ready to see the result of her off-season work as the first qualifying session took place on Saturday morning. Doran was on the pace from the outset as she topped the Class B times after the first series of laps, just ahead of Martyn Culley. Continue to improve throughout the session, Christie first sector was particularly impressive as she began to challenge some of the Class A runners. However, Culley was able to respond and took Class B pole by under half a second with Doran closely behind in second. Encouraged by her qualifying performance, Doran felt she was unlucky not to take pole position, saying “I proved that I had the pace from qualifying 2nd in class and was in P1 for the majority of the session till the last lap”.

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Christie enjoying a debrief following her strong qualifying run where she set the second fastest time in Class B. Photo Credit – Lewis Houghton

Looking for one of her trademark starts in race one, Christie gained an incredible ten places to pass the majority of the Class A cars to end the first lap in sixth overall, first in Class B. After getting shuffled back through the field, Christie set about getting into a rhythm and immediately posted personal best sector times. With Class B rival Martyn Culley directly ahead of her by lap four, Doran could sense the opportunity for victory and set the fastest lap in Class B, eclipsing the best lap she’d set in qualifying. Unfortunately on lap eight Christie had an incident at turn one which brought an end to her weekend, with a red flag also being brought out in the race. Despite the incident, Christie took the positives from the weekend and knows she will be back on the pace for round two adding “I managed to do another great start in the race where I made up loads of places in the race but unfortunately one very small mistake ended up in a massive impact with the concrete wall which ended the weekend. It is not the way I wanted to end the weekend but I know we can come back fighting at Snetterton. I just feel for the team because they have to fix the car”.

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Christie made a fantastic start in race one and enjoyed a number of close battles in the opening stages. Photo Credit – Lewis Houghton

Due to the damage sustained in the earlier incident, Christie was unable to take place in race two with a short turnaround between the pair of VAG Trophy races. Nevertheless, Doran could take many positives from her first ever weekend racing at Rockingham including an impressive fastest lap during the opening race, a time which no Class B driver was able match over the day. Christie has definitely carried over the strong pace she found towards the end of 2016 and this will be crucial to mounting a championship challenge as the season progresses. With tracks to come which Doran has enjoyed success at, she’ll remain upbeat despite a tough start to the season and look to rebound with a strong weekend at Snetterton next month.

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Christie Doran ready for season opener at Rockingham

Slidesports upcoming driver Christie Doran is targeting the VAG Trophy Class B title this season after a strong end to the 2016 season. Doran, who ended the year in impressive fashion by taking a pair of wins in the season finale at Castle Combe, is returning to driver her VW Golf in what is set to be the most competitive Class B field in recent times. Speaking of her return to the series, Christie added “This will be a tough season. Regulation changes mean there will be a number of top drivers trying out Class B this year. I finished last season on a real high – with pole position, two wins and two fastest laps at Castle Combe. But I need to be back to that level straight away. It has been a long close season but we are ready to go”.

In preparation for the season ahead, Christie has taken part in a number of test sessions to re-familiarise with the car. Speaking of the tests, Slidesports team manager Mark Jenkins said “We did a pre-season shakedown and she got rid of the rust and put in some good times. Then she has gone to Rockingham – where she has never raced before – and was really impressive. She has settled into the car far quicker than last year and that is a sign of the progress she is making”. However, Mark also alluded to the fact that Class B is set to be a tough test, adding “I believe Class B will be the most competitive it has been. It will be tough to win but Christie knows she has a good car that is capable of winning – she has proved that”. Despite the strength of her competitors, Mark still believes Doran has a good shot at the title by saying “I would hope she will be battling for podiums everywhere, getting wins and having a say in the championship”.

Along with her team, Christie’s sponsors are vital to her success and being able to use the facilities at Macdonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa have enabled Christie to build up her fitness levels ahead of the opening weekend. Speaking of her training regime, Doran commented “I have been working really hard in the gym at Inchrya. The programme they have devised has made me heavier, but it is all muscle. I need to be light but strong so it does not affect the weight of the car”. Christie is also sponsored by Advance Construction Scotland, Complete Cleaning, Draper Tools and Tunnock’s. Speaking of her gratitude, Doran said “Their support means so much. They have faith, now it’s up to me to deliver. I have been itching to get started now I can’t wait for the weekend. Christie is optimistic, but realistic heading into another competitive VAG Trophy campaign and believes success will be based around consistency by adding “Slidesports are the best around. They have given me another stunning car. A good championship will be about good driving and score consistent points. The best points are for a win so that’s what we are aiming for”.

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Alicia Goundry makes car racing debut at Anglesey

Alicia Goundry became one of the youngest drivers to compete in the Junior Saloon Car Championship this weekend as she made her debut at Anglesey. At just fourteen-years of age, Alicia made quite an impression by qualifying inside the top-10 in her Citroen Saxo before going on to finish race two in a highly commendable tenth position. Despite an early retirement in race one, Goundry will be pleased with her progress as she begins her car racing career.

After a period of testing throughout last season and the beginning of this, Alicia was ready for her first car racing event which took place in the Junior Saloon Car Championship at Anglesey. Following practice sessions on Friday, Goundry took to the track for qualifying on Saturday morning aiming for a trouble-free session. From the outset, Alicia was showing her pace, jumping inside the top-10 on her opening laps and setting a consistent pace. Improving her times during the session, Goundry ended qualifying with a highly impressive ninth place result, beating the majority of her fellow rookie drivers.

Race one took place later that day with Alicia starting from the fifth row of the grid. Taking her first ever car racing start, Goundry was hoping to hold her position and develop her racecraft as the event progressed. Unfortunately, Alicia pulled into the pits on the first lap to retire from the race, a disappointing start but she was determined to fight back in race two the following day.

Looking to bounce back from her disappointment of the previous day, Alicia lined up tenth for race two courtesy of her second fastest time in qualifying. Goundry made a great start and moved up to ninth after the opening lap and was consequently in a battle with fellow female driver Lydia Walmsley for eighth position. After briefly claiming the position, Alicia fell back and consolidated ninth during the middle portion of race. On lap 11, Goundry fell back to 11th after the charging Sam Kirkpatrick was able to get past and allowed Ronan Pearson to take a position away. Gaining a position back on the final lap, Alicia finished in tenth, a fantastic effort on just her first weekend in car racing.

Showing strong and consistent pace throughout the weekend, Alicia should be more than satisfied with her first weekend in the Junior Saloon Car Championship. Competing against more experienced drivers, Goundry more than held her own and showed flashes of speed which may see her challenge towards the top-5 during the remainder of the season. In just two weeks’ time Alicia will be back on track for the next round of the Junior Saloon Car Championship where she will hope to continue her progress and challenge for her best result to date.

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