Suffolk teenager Walmsley is too young to drive legally but making waves on the track

Ipswich racing driver Lydia Walmsley will be driving in the Mini Challenge this season. Picture: MOR

Ipswich racing driver Lydia Walmsley will be driving in the Mini Challenge this season. Picture: MORRIS LUBRICANTS - Credit: Archant

Suffolk teenager Lydia Walmsley may not be old enough to drive a car legally on the road, but she is blazing a trail for female motorsport as she prepares to make her debut in the Mini Challenge this season.

It promises to be a pivotal year for Walmsley, 16, who is dividing her time between chasing her dream of becoming a professional motorsport racer and preparing for her GCSE exams.

The determined Ipswich racer begins the seven-round Mini Challenge campaign at Donnington Park on April 14 and 15 and is looking forward to testing her racing skills against more experienced drivers.

She has inherited her racing bug from her dad, Mike, a mechanic who prepares the Mini Cooper for her. He was a British Oval Track Legends champion and a hotrod driver during his racing days.

“I am probably going to be the youngest driver in the Mini Challenge but that doesn’t worry me,” said Lydia, whose ambition is to compete in the British Touring Car Championship.

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“I gained a lot of experience last year in the Junior Saloon Car Championship and I’m hoping to carry that forward. I don’t think age is going to stop me from progressing.”

She was bitten by the racing bug at the age of seven when karting for the first time at Buckmore Park and, despite breaking a leg in an accident in 2012, she was soon back in the driver’s seat. This steely determination helped her win a series of karting awards before progressing to the Junior Saloon Car Championship and now the Mini Challenge.

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“I am still very young and quite inexperienced compared to other drivers in the Mini Challenge, but I hope to be there or thereabouts pushing for the front,” she said. “I know it’s going to be difficult and a huge challenge, but I have a really good team and, with everyone supporting me, I think I can do well.

“It’s great to see more women getting into motorsport and, while there is still such a long way to go, it’s going in a positive direction.”

Proud dad Mike said: “She’s a very determined young lady and a lot better than I was. Because of her age, the only time she drives a car is when she is on a race track and not many people she is competing against will say that.”

- This season, Walmsley will be competing as an ambassador for Morris Lubricants, one of Europe’s leading oil blenders and marketers. The company has chosen her as one of its Morris Lubricants Racing ambassadors – drivers and riders who are supported at all levels of motorsport in the UK.

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