• Chapman maintains positive outlook despite tough Snetterton
• First year British GT racer takes pair of top 12 results in Rds4&5
• Teen racer hopes to bounce back at home track Silverstone in June
British GT4 driver Matt Chapman experienced a tougher than expected outing during rounds four and five at Snetterton over the weekend, 27th/28th May, when power issues and contact in race two – when team-mate Sam Webster was at the wheel – resulted in a pair of 12th place results.
Despite tireless work throughout from the Autoaid/RCIB Insurance squad to try and resolve continued engine related problems with the No.63 Ginetta G55, which first surfaced during the previous event at Rockingham, potential was unfortunately hampered for the Oxford 17-year-old.
Aside from the outright top 12 finishes in GT4, in the Silver class battle Chapman and Webster managed to post a best result of fifth in the second of the event’s one-hour contests and sixth in the preceding encounter – enabling them to retain a top five placing in the Silver points standings.
“We had mechanical issues all weekend which we were chasing during every session, but full credit to the team as they worked really hard to try and resolve everything”, said Chapman, “It’s really frustrating for everyone as we looked strong in the race at Rockingham before the issues surfaced.
“It was quite a struggle to keep up on the two long straights at Snetterton this weekend, but we got the most out of the car and around the complex we were competitive. Due to the problems we’ve had a complete lack of testing, but we’re hopefully having a run-out fairly soon to try and finally get to the bottom of the issues.”
During qualifying on Saturday afternoon, Webster took the opening session which determined the grid for round four and he ended the run with the 14th fastest time in GT4, seventh in the Silver class battle. In the round five session, Chapman was an improved 11th quickest and fifth in Silver.
In Sunday’s opening race, Webster traded places with Tim Eakin’s Nissan 370Z early on as they battled over 13th place and by lap 10 the No.63 Ginetta had climbed into the top 12 of GT4. Slipping back again before the driver change pit-stop at the midway point, when Chapman took over the car he held 13th place as the race order settled down.
Determined to try and make some progress, the Oxfordshire teenager broke back into the top 12 in the final quarter of an hour and had a great battle with the Aston Martin of Jan Jonck. Ultimately, though, Chapman had to settle for 12th at the flag and sixth in the Silver class.
Taking the opening stint for race two later in the day, Chapman was edged back to 14th position on a very busy first lap before then getting involved in a fantastic inter-team battle with the sister No.36 Autoaid/RCIB Insurance car of Jake Giddings – a former British GT4 Champion.
Keeping Giddings and the Ginetta of Nathan Freke at bay for several laps, Chapman was ultimately shuffled back to 15th place by Freke on lap seven but then moved up a position at the expense of the No.29 McLaren on lap eight.
Continuing to battle with Giddings, both then profited from some drama ahead when three GT4 cars tangled at the Esses on lap 11 and Chapman emerged in 12th position. When the pit-stop window opened at the 25-minute mark, Chapman stayed out and he climbed into the top four before stopping to hand over to Webster who joined the race in 13th spot.
Shortly afterwards the Safety Car was deployed and racing only resumed with 15 minutes remaining in the contest. Still holding 13th place, Webster’s hopes then took a turn for the worse when the rear of the car was hit at the chicane by the No.55 Ginetta.
Pitching Webster into a spin, and resulting in secondary contact too which caused rear-end damage, he still managed to continue and took the flag at the end of a dramatic hour in 12th place and fifth in the Silver class.
Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire, Chapman’s ‘home’ venue, is the next stop on the British GT calendar with round six of the season set to take place two weeks from now on Sunday, 11th June.
2017 British GT4 Championship Standings
15th Matt Chapman & Sam Webster, 2pts
2017 British GT4 Championship – Silver Class Standings
5th Matt Chapman & Sam Webster, 47pts