• Rapid teen Matt Chapman graduates from Ginetta GT5 to British GT4
• Oxford racer joins Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing for endurance debut
• Multiple Ginetta race winner to team-up with Sam Webster for GT4 bid
• Chapman satisfied with first official British GT engagement at ‘Media Day’
Oxford racing driver Matt Chapman says he is ‘absolutely thrilled’ to be making the step-up into the prestigious British GT Championship for the 2017 motorsport season, after this week completing a late deal to join reigning GT4 category team champions Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing.
Signing to partner Sam Webster in the high-profile endurance racing championship at the eleventh hour prior to the official pre-season test yesterday, Tuesday, 28th March, 17-year-old Chapman is relishing the prospect of his maiden campaign in British GT aboard a Ginetta G55 GT4.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be in British GT this season”, said an elated Chapman, “When I raced in Ginetta GT5 last year we were part of the same package and always looking up to the GTs – it was always the aim to race in British GT this year.
“It’s all fallen into place for me at the last minute, but I’m over the moon. The team is amazing, they won the team championship last year, and Sam is a great guy as well. He’s very motivated and you can tell he wants to win as much as I do, so I’m sure we’ll have a great year as team-mates.”
He added: “We always want to win, that’s why we go racing, we never go out there to finish second or third. Looking ahead realistically, we’d like to challenge for podiums from the start of the season and then be able to push on for wins and be consistently up there at the front.”
Notably, the deal with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing means Chapman remains with the Ginetta brand with which he has spent his entire car racing career to date. After making the move from karting in 2014 aged just 14-years-old, he raced in the Ginetta Junior Championship for two seasons, where he became a podium finisher, and then stepped-up into the Ginetta GT5 Challenge last year.
Putting together a tremendous campaign in his rookie season in the quicker GT5 cars, which also marked his first year racing with slick tyres, Chapman ended the 2016 season as Vice-Champion with two race victories and 10 podiums.
Now, a new challenge awaits in British GT where a record number of 19 entries in GT4 have been received in addition to 12 cars in the GT3 class. After sharing driving duties with Webster for the first time in yesterday’s test, Chapman is looking forward to the season ahead.
“Snetterton was a great chance to get to know the team and get acquainted with the car”, he commented, “It’s a really good car, obviously a step-up from the GT5 I raced last year. There’s more than double the power and a lot more grip, so it’s a massive learning curve.
“I’m definitely up for the challenge, though. I’ve been with Ginetta since starting out in Juniors and it’s nice to be able to continue with them for GTs. They have GT3 and the G57 programme, and LMP1 soon, so there’s a nice progression to aim for.”
With the official season launch having now taken place, all roads point to Oulton Park International Circuit in Cheshire where the opening pair of 60-minute British GT Championship races will take place across Easter weekend – Saturday, 15th April, and Easter Monday, 17th April.
2017 British GT Championship Calendar
Rds1&2 Oulton Park International Circuit, Cheshire – 15-17 April
Rd3 Rockingham ISSC, Northamptonshire – 29/30 April
Rds4&5 Snetterton 300 Circuit, Norfolk – 27/28 May
Rd6 Silverstone GP Circuit, Northamptonshire – 10/11 June
Rd7 Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium – 7/8 July
Rd8 Brands Hatch GP Circuit, Kent – 5/6 August
Rd9 Donington Park GP Circuit, Leicestershire – 23/24 September