By Liam Redford
Matthiesen retains championship lead after challenging Snetterton weekend
Patrik Matthiesen has retained the British GT4 championship lead with a resilient performance at Snetterton. Driving alongside Callum Pointon, the pair maintained their 100% points scoring record with two top-10 finishes in the sprint races held at the Norfolk circuit. After qualifying 2nd and 15th respectively for the two races, the HHC Motorsport duo finished eighth in the opening race, before a fantastic charge through the field saw them narrowly miss out on the podium in race two, with a fifth-place result.
The first on track action of the weekend took place on Saturday morning with the first of two free practice sessions. In contrast to the previous two rounds of the championship, conditions were dry and warm which would pose different challenges to those faced so far this season. The opening practice session was littered with red flags meaning Patrik and Callum were limited in their number of flying laps, but still ended the session eighth fastest. Practice session two ran more smoothly with the HHC Motorsport duo completing 24 laps, setting the 14th fastest time in GT4. However, times were extremely close with the top-17 cars covered by less than one and a half seconds heading into qualifying.
Conditions were perfect heading into qualifying with Callum taking to the track in the first session which would set the grid for the opening race on Sunday. Setting a considerably faster time than shown in free practice, Callum was up inside the top-10 in the opening stages of qualifying. A fantastic final lap jumped the HHC Motorsport Ginetta into second, a vital lap to gain track position in a race which would be made harder by the pit-stop success penalty.
Patrik drove in the second session which would set the grid for race two, featuring the “Pro” drivers which would be an extra challenge. Matthiesen did a good job to improve his lap time throughout the session, coming up just short of the time set by Callum. With an extremely close and competitive field at Snetterton, this meant Patrik’s time was good enough for 15th in GT4. Nevertheless, the race would provide good opportunities to make progress, especially in the second half where Callum will be competing alongside the “Am” drivers.
Race one begun with Callum starting the car from the front row of the grid. A chaotic opening lap saw the HHC Motorsport Ginetta drop to fourth, with Callum quickly regaining back a podium position. Good speed was maintained by the young driver over the first 20 minutes, before a safety car allowed the field to tighten up. This was terrible luck for the team who had built up a sizeable gap over the majority of the top-10 which was erased, compounded by the pit stop success penalty being taken while their rivals were also in the pits.
The success penalty led to Patrik re-joining in 12th, with the field relatively spread out as the safety car came in. Matthiesen set to work in making up lost time by quickly overtaking Jan Jonck for 11th. Progress was tough in the second half of the race against the “Pro” drivers, but Patrik did a nice job to hold his own and set competitive lap times. Two drive through penalties for teams ahead promoted the HHC Motorsport Ginetta in ninth, a position which Patrik held until the flag. Although it wasn’t the result Matthiesen was looking for, a post-race penalty for a car ahead led to an eighth place finish and four championship points which could prove vital at the end of the season.
Patrik began race two from the 15th position and did a great job to avoid a first lap incident, dropping just one position as the safety car was deployed. Maintaining the gap to the large group ahead of him, Matthiesen moved up a position on lap eight, overtaking the Nissan 370Z of Martin Plowman. This strong pace was maintained until the pit-stop where Patrik handed over the car to Callum with no extra success penalty to take in race two.
The HHC Motorsport crew did a great job to ensure Callum cycled through into 14th when all the stops were completed. Callum then set about chasing down the drivers ahead of him which he did successfully, moving inside the top-10 on lap 21. A strong end to the race saw the Ginetta lose less time to its rivals in the closing stages with Callum picking off five more cars before the end of the race, all while holding off their main championship rivals behind. A fifth-place result may not appear a spectacular result, but this was a superb race from both drivers given the circumstances.
Despite balance of performance challenges, coupled with a pit-stop success penalty in race one, it was a positive weekend for the HHC Motorsport duo who maximised the performance of their car at Snetterton. Smart driving from both Patrik and Callum enabled them to avoid any incidents while picking up places when the opportunity presented itself. This means that the pair retain their championship lead over the #4 Tolman Motorsport McLaren team by just half a point as the championship reaches its halfway point. The next event for Patrik will be the eagerly anticipated Silverstone 500 with a three-hour race on the Grand Prix layout next month.