Ginetta GT5 Challenge race winner Matt Chapman claimed the sixth podium finish of his maiden season in the championship at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 11th/12th June, during an event of rollercoaster fortunes for the Oxford teenager.
Frustrated to miss out on a potential victory, and near guaranteed podium, in round nine on Saturday after an unfortunate on-track incident, the Total Control Racing driver hit back in style with a top three result in a wet round 10 before taking a top five finish in a rain-hit round 11.
Additionally, he showcased his pace and racecraft in the challenging conditions and the 16-year-old confirmed the level of performance with the fastest lap in the second contest – a time of 2m46.003 seconds (79.38mph).
On Saturday in qualifying, Matt was in the fight for pole position before ultimately securing second on the grid for the opening race of the weekend at his home track. Making a good start to the race, the TCR driver moved into the lead and held a 0.7 second cushion at the beginning of lap two.
Hopes of pulling further clear, though, were annulled when the Safety Car was required as a result of a Ginetta stranded on track. Action resumed at the beginning of lap four with Matt leading the train of cars away but, midway through the lap at the exit of Vale, the race took a dramatic twist for the Oxfordshire driver when he was pitched off the circuit after initially running slightly wide.
Recovering in 14th position, Matt had just two and a half laps in which to try and move as high up the order as he possibly could. With some impressive driving he managed to climb into ninth place before the conclusion to salvage important championship points.
Meaning he started a rain-hit round 10 on Sunday morning from the fifth row of the grid, Matt put together a great opening lap to climb into seventh position and then moved into the top six near the end of the tour at Brooklands with an excellent pass out of the left-hander.
Chasing down the cars ahead, Matt reeled them in and after taking fifth from Glenn Broster on lap two he then climbed into the top four at the expense of TCR team-mate Ian Robinson the next time around – at the same time as posting the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2m46.003 seconds.
Aiming to break into the podium places, he was then elevated into third unexpectedly as a result of a rival spinning. Holding the position into the sixth and final lap, with rain continuing to fall, as Matt headed into the sequence of turns at Maggotts and Becketts he was delayed by a slower tail-ender and so, at the apex of Becketts, he chose to take the inside line of the right-hander.
Pursuing rival Jonathan Hadfield, who had a less impeded run through the turn, took the outside line and onto Hangar Straight the duo ran door handle-to-door handle. Into Stowe, Hadfield had the momentum and the line to be able to edge past Matt into second place and so the TCR driver took the flag in third, a very welcome podium finish nonetheless, just 0.1 seconds shy of second place.
Race three of the weekend started on a drying track but with damp patches offline and, from eighth on the grid, Matt initially slipped to ninth before moving back into the top eight on lap two. Running in a very tightly packed bunch from third place back to the tail of the top 10, he looked to make more progress but on lap four conditions became increasingly difficult as rain started to fall.
Working his way into seventh place on lap four, the TCR racer gained two more positions on the fifth tour which became the final lap when officials displayed the chequered flag early due to the increasingly intense rainfall.
“Race one was going as well as I could have hoped, we had a comfortable lead to the Safety Car”, reflected Matt, “Unfortunately, after the restart, I got a bit wide onto the new pits straight, one car managed to get a nose up the inside and everyone was very close together so I couldn’t get back onto the racing line.
“We had quite a comfortable second place in race two and I was chasing down the leader, traffic happens though and it’s what you expect with different classes – I’m still happy with third from ninth. I got a bad start initially, so had work to do, but the car was great and TCR did a great job again. I’m looking forward to Croft this weekend now, consistent podiums are all I’m aiming for.”
There is less than a week to wait for the next instalment of Ginetta GT5 Challenge action when the championship rejoins the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship package at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire this coming weekend, 18th/19th June.