Matt Chapman secured two more highly competitive points finishes during the fourth event of the Ginetta Junior Championship season at Oulton Park Island Circuit on Sunday, 7th June, with a best finish of seventh place helping the 15-year-old climb into 11th position in the driver standings.
After a challenging start to his second season in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship support category, the relative upturn in fortune which was in evidence at Thruxton last time out continued at Oulton’s Island Circuit this weekend with Matt again delivering excellent pace.
As well as equalling his season-best seventh place in round eight on Sunday afternoon, the Oxford racer steered his Ginetta G40 to a top eight finish in the earlier seventh round to edge ever closer to the coveted championship top 10.
Running strongly from the outset, Matt lapped second fastest overall during officially timed testing on Friday, 5th June, and after placing in the top 10 during practice on Saturday morning he went on to secure a solid third row start for the first race of the weekend with the fifth fastest time – a lap of 1m44.282 seconds (76.84mph), just 0.4 seconds shy of pole position.
Although edged back to seventh off the start, and then down to 10th place shortly after, the Total Control Racing driver didn’t waste any time in recovering back up towards the top six and on lap three he moved into ninth before then climbing into the top eight on the next tour.
Sandwiched between Billy Monger and Patrik Matthiesen, Matt tried everything in the book to get ahead of Monger but his rival defended heavily. Visibly the quicker of the two, Matt piled on the pressure – while keeping an eye on Matthiesen – but after being run out wide at Old Hall on lap seven, he was also edged wide at Cascades although was fortunately able to hold onto eighth.
Into the final lap, the Oxfordshire youngster did momentarily slip behind Alex Day on the run over the line as a result of his delays the lap before but he swiftly hit back and closed to within just 0.2 seconds of Monger at the flag.
Beginning race two from eighth position, Matt made a good launch away from the line but on the outside into Old Hall he was edged wide and slipped back to 10th place. Determined to slice his way back up the order, he climbed into ninth on lap three and then gained two more positions on lap four to hold seventh place.
Hoping to gain more ground during the second half of the race, any chance of further progress was ended on lap six when the Safety Car was deployed – due to an excursion for Rowan Bailey – which then remained on track to the finish.
“Being P2 in first practice on Friday was a very positive start, just what we wanted, and qualifying went pretty well too”, said Matt, “It was a real fight in race one to just try and get through and make up places. I got put wide a few times trying to pass [Billy] Monger as he was defending really hard.
“Race two was solid, I actually got a pretty good start but got hung out to dry on the outside at the first corner and that dropped me back. There were some good battles and our pace was good, but when the Safety Car came out that was it. It’s definitely been a strong weekend overall and now I’m really looking forward to Croft, it’s one of my favourite circuits and I know we can do well there.”
The first half of the 2015 Ginetta Junior Championship season will reach its conclusion at Croft, near Darlington in North Yorkshire, over the weekend 27th/28th June.
Provisional Ginetta Junior Championship Standings (after Rd8):11th Matt Chapman, 87pts