Ginetta GT5 Challenge newcomer Matt Chapman got preparations for his 2016 motor racing campaign off to a perfect start at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit today, Tuesday, 22nd March, by topping the times in all three test sessions during the pre-season Media Day.
After a long winter since the conclusion of last season’s Ginetta Junior Championship, where he was a top 10 finisher in the driver standings with several fastest laps to his credit, the Oxford 16-year-old produced an immaculate performance today at the wheel of his Total Control Racing Ginetta G40.
In session one, Matt set a quickest time of 53.298 seconds (81.59mph) to end the opening run a full 0.6 seconds ahead of his closest challenger. He then bettered that performance in session two, delivering the quickest time of the day with a lap of 53.150 seconds (81.81mph).
Rounding out the test with an effort of 53.200 seconds (81.74mph) in the final outing to again lead the way, the Ginetta GT5 rookie underlined his terrific consistency as well as his undoubted pace with a thoroughly professional day’s work.
He is now, understandably, relishing the return to Brands Hatch – albeit on the longer Grand Prix Circuit – for the opening race meeting of the 2016 season next month, where he will spearhead TCR’s three-car assault on the championship.
“All three sessions were very straightforward, no problems at all and the team did a great job with the car as always”, said the teenager, “They gave me a really consistent car and we were able to go through a lot of set-ups so I could feel how they changed the handling of the car, so we weren’t just focusing on quick lap times.
“We’re not getting carried away, some of the main protagonists we’ll be fighting against this season weren’t at the test so we won’t have a full idea of how things look until the first round. This has been a great start, though, and I think it’s fairly clear we should be up there battling it out with the main guys from last year.”
As well as piloting a more powerful car this year in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, Matt is also getting adjusted to running on full slick Michelin tyres having spent the last couple of years in Ginetta Junior on treaded rubber.
He will be back on track at Brands Hatch on 16th/17th April when the first three races of the season take place as part of the support package to the opening event of the British GT Championship. The bulk of the GT5 Challenge season will take place alongside British GT, although two events will run on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship card – Thruxton in May and Croft in June.