Oxford racing driver Matt Chapman is set to spearhead Total Control Racing’s bid for a third straight Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge title in 2016 it has been confirmed today, with the 16-year-old progressing into the category after two seasons in the Ginetta Junior Championship.
Next year will mark the youngster’s third successive season with top team TCR and Matt makes the step into the GT5 Challenge off the back of concluding his second year in car racing in style at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit last month, where he claimed his maiden podium in the final round.
Keen to sort out a deal for 2016 nice and early, the teenager has certainly done that as the first driver to be confirmed for the new season of GT5 Challenge action and is relishing the prospect of staying with the Lee Brookes-led squad for his graduation from Ginetta Junior.
Despite some misfortune this year, Matt was still able to piece together a top 10 championship finish and chalked-up several fastest laps along the way too which underlined his clear pace and potential.
His maiden test in a Ginetta GT5 Challenge car - which took place just under a fortnight ago at Donington Park - also confirmed his terrific speed.
Enjoying a fantastic day, he was on front-running pace inside the first hour to underpin the realistic hopes he has of mounting a bid for the 2016 title as he aims to follow in the wheeltracks of TCR’s reigning champion James Kellett and his predecessor George Gamble.
In addition to the extra grunt from the Ginetta G40 utilised in the Challenge series to get used to – the power of the cars used in Ginetta Junior is restricted – the GT5 variant also runs on slick Michelin tyres as opposed to the treaded ‘trackday’ tyres which are the norm in the Junior series.
“I’ve learnt so much with TCR over the last couple of years, Lee and the team have all done a great job and winning the Ginetta GT5 Challenge for the last two seasons speaks for itself”, said the Oxfordshire teenager, “Now we’ve got the deal for next season in place so early, I can really start to focus and prepare as well as possible for our move into the GT5 Challenge.
“The Donington test went really, really well. Having Jonny [Adam] there to give his feedback was fantastic and he was very complimentary about my driving, which is obviously a huge confidence boost for my first time on slicks. It’s always a great feeling when a multiple car racing champion is so positive about what you’re doing! We’re confident we can mount a strong title bid in 2016.”
After two sensational seasons back-to-back in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge with championship success in 2014 and 2015, the TCR squad – which has won numerous titles in a wide variety of one-make categories over the years – is equally positive about the chances of a third straight success.
“Matt was much quicker in Juniors this year than the end results showed, he had some bad luck but his race pace was fantastic”, said TCR boss Lee Brookes, “When we tested him in the Challenge car he was quicker than we expected actually, so that has given us all a lot of confidence we can go for the championship win for a third straight year. We’ll be doing everything we can to make it happen.”