Lydia Walmsley and her family team made the long five hour trip across the country last weekend as they headed to Pembrey for the latest rounds of the Junior Saloon car championship. (JSCC)
They were hoping to have finally shaken the bad luck which has dogged them for a large part of the season.
The Friday test day was first up and initially it was very wet. So wet in fact, that one of the sessions had to be abandoned as the track was so waterlogged. But the weather improved a bit through the day and Lydia was able to take to the track. Despite the tricky wet conditions, it was a positive day and the whole team were looking forward to what should be a strong weekend.
Saturday would see just a practice session and qualifying as the Citroen C1 series had a four hour race in the afternoon. It had rained first thing but when the JSCC cars took to the track it was just cloudy. The track was still damp though and so it was important to take things easier. This point was proved after only a couple of laps when a big off by another car bought out the red flags. After a delay while things were cleared up, the session resumed and by the chequered flag, Lydia was a strong seventh. She had several places where she felt she could gain more time so things were looking good.
The weather remained dry for qualifying. The track was much drier now and so faster. Lydia set faster lap times but was slightly disappointed to find at the end of the session that this left her tenth on the grid for race one and ninth for race two. Another driver had a penalty from a previous race so this moved her up to ninth for race one. She felt she was going faster than her position suggested so what could be wrong? There had been similar issues at Croft but the car seemed fine on inspection.
Sunday began with heavy rain once again. It had stopped as the cars headed onto the grid for race one although the track was damp and greasy. Lydia got a good start but found her car was mysteriously slow in a straight line. On the twisty bits of Pembrey she’d make up loads of ground, only to see her rivals pull away again on the straights. Despite this, she managed to fight her way up to eighth place and then held off a rival behind her all the way to the flag to take eighth.
It wasn’t where she wanted to be after getting so close to a podium earlier in the season but considering the cars lack of straight line speed it was a great performance showing that Lydia can drag even an underperforming car up the field.
The priority was now to see if the problem could be located. If it was with the engine itself, there wouldn’t be time to fix the issue and Lydia would have to struggle through the second race as well.
Charlotte Birch’s dad came over to help and the problem was traced to an issue with a sensor that affects the engine. The problem was fixed but there would be no time to test the car properly before the race and so Lydia would have to go with whatever the car had to give her.
As the lights went out for the second and final JSCC race of the weekend, Lydia got a great start and by half way round the first lap she was already up to sixth place. Things were looking positive as she headed towards the hairpin on lap two. Suddenly there was a huge bang and Lydia’s car was knocked sideways towards the edge of the track. A rival had made a mistake and ran into the side of Lydia’s car causing a lot of damage to the driver’s side but fortunately the caved in door didn’t touch Lydia in the driver’s seat.
Lydia’s determination then showed when she recovered the car back on track and headed to the pits where the team quickly checked out the car and pulled off some loose bodywork. Lydia then roared back into the race. Fortunately for Lydia, some of the other cars damaged in the crash were stranded and so the safety car was scrambled. This gave her a chance to catch up with the field without losing a lap. Unfortunately, her window then started dropping out so she headed straight back to the pits to have it pulled out. Then once again she re-joined and with the safety still circulating she re-joined the pack.
It soon became clear that the crash had done even more damage than was first apparent as the car now wouldn’t drive easily in a straight line and so for the rest of the race, Lydia would have to struggle with an ill handling car. Despite this, she set about passing rivals and past a couple of cars after the restart. She then looked to pass the next car in front but with the handling very one sided it was a struggle. She crossed the line in tenth place. This would normally have been a disappointing result but considering the big crash she had been involved in, she had done well to recover and fight her way to the chequered flag.
“It’s not really gone the way I’d hoped this weekend. We had engine issues and then I got taken out in race two which I’m not happy about. We’ve not had any luck recently so hopefully things have to change soon. Thanks to Joe Tanner my driver coach, all my family team and my sponsors. Plus Russell Birch who helped us with the engine problems. Next up is Donington Park, hopefully we can get back to where we were at the start of the season and maybe even get on the podium.” By Marc Waller, written on Girl Racer.
Author: Clerk of the Course
The Clerk of Junior Torque. Administrator, Editor and Dictator!