Matt Chapman once again delivered superb front-running pace during the second race meeting of the Ginetta Junior Championship season at Donington Park National Circuit over the weekend, 18th/19th April – but a pair of robust races once more limited the teenager’s scoring potential.
As at Brands Hatch a fortnight ago, the 15-year-old from Oxford proved he had the speed to run at the sharp end but tight action in both rounds three and four resulted in a best finish of 11th place in the final outing of the weekend on Sunday.
Displaying clear pace from the outset, after qualifying ninth fastest within just 0.281 seconds of pole position, Matt made a great start to Saturday’s race and climbed into the top six on the first lap after smartly negotiating a multi-car skirmish at McLeans.
Frustratingly, though, contact on lap two resulted in an excursion and dropped the Total Control Racing driver all the way down to 22nd position – leaving him with a literal mountain to climb during the remainder of the contest.
Retaining great composure and racing brilliantly, Matt rapidly carved his way through the order and managed to gain 10 places before the chequered flag on lap 11, taking a hard-earned 12th position. Post-race, though, officials dropped the teenager back to 16th position in the amended classification after deeming him to have gained an unfair advantage during his recovery drive.
Despite the difficulties, Matt’s speed and front-running potential was undeniable with a best lap of 1m25.050 seconds – quicker than the pace produced by all three podium finishers in the opening race of the weekend.
Starting the live televised fourth round on Sunday from 16th on the grid, Matt made a good launch from the line and moved into the top 15 before looking to make more gains during the early running as the tightly bunched pack jostled for position.
In the thick of an entertaining seven car battle, the TCR racer managed to claw his way to the front of the train by the end of lap four with some excellent driving to move into 11th position, and more looked on the cards as he closed up to the coveted top 10.
Breaking into 10th place on the eighth and penultimate lap, Matt was then elbowed back to 11th on the final tour after being put wide. Taking the chequered flag mere fractions of a second behind the two cars ahead, the result marked an impressive drive after a somewhat trying weekend.
“Both races were quite tough but I’m pleased with the pace we showed, even if I’m not that happy with the results”, reflected Matt, “Both my starts were good, in race one it was all going really well to begin with but after I got hit it was hard work to come back through. I got a good start again in race two, managed to keep it on the inside, and the racing was quite good after that.
“The car felt good all weekend, we weren’t far away in qualifying and we just need to be able to start on the first two or three rows to show what we can really do. I’m looking forward to Thruxton now, we were quick there in testing a few weeks ago – it’s a mega track.”
Next on the Ginetta Junior Championship calendar is a visit to Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire over the weekend 9th/10th May.