Rapid teenage driver Matt Chapman secured his breakthrough maiden car racing victory with a sensational performance at Oulton Park International Circuit on Saturday, 28th May, during round eight of the Ginetta GT5 Challenge – the series rookie taking a five second win from sixth on the grid.
Starring in the final race of the one-day meeting at the challenging Cheshire track, the Oxford-based Total Control Racing driver produced a headline performance to become only the third competitor this season to win a race in the British GT Championship support category.
“I’m absolutely elated”, said Matt, “The team did a really good job setting the car up and I got a better start in race three. Coming from sixth isn’t the easiest thing to do but I made a few overtakes and went around the outside for second place at the last corner on lap one.
“Then I took first at the first corner and a gaggle of cars behind allowed me to pull away. I kept the pace, kept pushing and just reeled off a few qualifying laps. It’s fantastic to have my first win and hopefully we can take this momentum forward to Silverstone.”
With all of the action for the third event of the season taking place on a single day, a busy morning began with qualifying where Matt posted the third fastest time at the wheel of his Ginetta G40, just 0.3 seconds shy of the front row.
Unfortunately slipping behind Ryan Hadfield at the beginning of race one, round six, Matt stayed in touch with the lead trio and immediately began to pile on the pressure to Hadfield in his bid to move back into the podium placings.
Just half a second behind into lap four, the TCR racer edged closer and closer and into the sixth tour he was a mere 0.1 seconds shy over the line. Sweeping past Hadfield to re-take third place, Matt instantly pulled clear and secured his fourth podium in succession.
Round seven proved to be a frustrating race for all involved when a multi-car tangle in the pack at the first corner on lap one triggered the deployment of the Safety Car which remained on track for the duration.
Slipping back to fourth initially, Matt clearly had the pace to re-challenge for another podium but he wasn’t able to mount a bid with the race staying under caution. As the clock ticked down, with just over a minute to go officials produced the chequered flags at the end of the fifth lap.
Beginning round eight from sixth on the grid, the top nine finishers from the previous encounter ‘reversed’ to form the starting order for the final race, Matt made a terrific start and pieced together an outstanding opening lap to climb into the top two.
Having moved into second at Lodge corner at the end of the first tour, Matt almost immediately grabbed the lead too after slicing past team-mate Ian Robinson into Old Hall at the beginning of lap two. Opening up an incredible advantage of 2.7 seconds by the start of lap three, he was 4.3 seconds to the good the next time around and reeled off a series of fastest laps.
Consolidating his impressive four second-plus lead, Matt continued to push and he ultimately took the chequered flag at the end of lap eight 4.9 seconds clear to secure his maiden race victory in cars and breakthrough success in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, as well as his fifth podium of the season.
Matt’s ‘home’ venue, Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, will host the fourth race meeting of the Ginetta GT5 Challenge season just under two weeks from now on 11th/12th June.