Nineteen-year old Lizzie Dudley from Cambridge has emerged victorious in the inaugural Autocar Shelsley Walsh Young Drivers’ Championship, scoring a resounding overall victory over five hillclimb rounds and one sprint.
Driving with impressive smoothness and precision, Dudley notched up four outright victories (20 points each) and finished the season with a score of 112 points from a possible 120.
Her nearest rivals were Alfie Westlake on 86 points and James Gwilliam on 80, although the competition was close in the lower positions.
The Autocar Shelsley championship, which is the brainchild of Lotus dealer and hillclimb enthusiast Paul Matty, is open to drivers between 19 and 22 years old, driving unmodified three-door 1.2-litre Vauxhall Corsas on which they're allowed to spend no more than £3000, including all safety gear.
The championship idea took wings when Matty and fellow enthusiasts from the Midland Automobile Club started noticing that a high proportion of hillclimb competitors were from older age groups. They believed they could do more to attract future talent to a motorsport code with strong and long-lived roots in the UK.
After the final event, Matty and his colleagues pronounced the championship a huge success, saying it had achieved “all we could have hoped for and more”.
Arrangements are already in hand to expand the field to 12 runners, widen the age group slightly and to embrace two new hillclimb venues, Prescott and Loton Park, whose organisers have seen the first year’s success and are keen to participate.
Autocar’s Steve Cropley, a long-time hillclimb competitor himself, said the magazine will be “happy and proud” to extend its backing for another six-round championship in 2022.