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Arthur Debenham motorsport column: Lydia Walmsley makes positive start in Mini Cooper JCW Challenge while Carl Boardley does not enjoy his Sentterton homecoming in the British Touring Car Championship




For the first time since 2019 the latest rounds of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) were played out before spectators as the Snetterton circuit hosted a limited 4,000 fans last weekend. On this occasion there were no complaints about the cold winds blowing across the Norfolk venue!

Regarding the BTCC, the meeting hosted rounds 4-6 and also the first three of the Mini Cooper JCW Challenge. For Ipswich and Great Blakenham's Carl Boardley Friday’s free practice saw the Infiniti Q50 some way down the order but Saturday’s qualifying saw him secure P22 for the first race on Sunday. This resulted in a trouble free run into a 20th place finish, so P20 it was for race two. And once again competing alongside several of the top names in the championship, further progress was made to secure 17th.

The last race at the previous Thruxton meeting saw an incident end his day on lap one, surely on his home circuit it couldn’t happen again? But it did. When former champion Gordon Shedden spent a short visit to the grass it seemed to trigger an incident that unfortunately saw Carl’s race end with retirement on the opening lap which had begun from P17.

Great Blakenham driver Carl Boardley crashed out in the latest round of the British Touring Car Championship Picture: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Great Blakenham driver Carl Boardley crashed out in the latest round of the British Touring Car Championship Picture: Jakob Ebrey Photography

The Mini Cooper JCW contest uses the most powerful version of the BMW, and for Kesgrave’s Lydia Walmsley the beginning of the latest chapter in her motorsport career. It was to prove a positive one.

With just three seconds separating the entire 30-strong grid on a lap distance of three miles it found Lydia on P27 for race one. The task ahead is to gain experience by putting in as much track time as possible. To this end the two 20 minute races did just that as all were fully completed with improved positions on race one (24th) and two (20th) while race three saw the day end with a 21st.

Dukeries Motor Club attracted a full entry to the latest running of their Flying fortress Rally last Sunday. The format was to provide six special stages offering 39 competitive miles on the disused airfield at Grafton Underwood. It saw the latest outing for Laura and Duncan Christmas, who brought the Austin Mini home 38th overall, fifth in class.

Lydia Walmsley has moved up from the Mini Challenge UK to the Mini Cooper JCW Challenge series Picture: Jakob Ebrey
Lydia Walmsley has moved up from the Mini Challenge UK to the Mini Cooper JCW Challenge series Picture: Jakob Ebrey

In the karting world, Bury St Edmunds’ Jim Barty is once again contesting the British Championship which got under way recently at the Shenington circuit. Barty has now moved from the TKM Class to the Junior X30 which uses the 125CC water-cooled power unit. Qualifying did not go well and to make it up into the finals he had to rely upon the Repêchage race which he duly won. This placed him on P29 for the pre-final and a 16th position which took him to the final in which 13th was the eventual outcome.

Plans for our show Motorsport East are well in hand and July 25 will see a good selection of cars on show in the Buttermarket and Cornhill area. At the latest count, no less than 11 different businesses of our sport will be represented. The Bury St Edmunds Improvement District (BID) have made a special attempt to have representatives from them to advice anyone who might be interested in competing or perhaps look to the organisational or promotional aspect. I can assure you that when I first picked up a microphone, at a West Suffolk Motor Club autocross in 1967 I had no idea at all just where it would lead!

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