Challenging weekend at Spa-Francorchamps for Patrik Matthiesen
Patrik Matthiesen overcame a pit-stop penalty to collect vital points in the latest round of the British GT Championship at Spa-Francorchamps. Coming into the weekend as championship leaders, Matthiesen and teammate Callum Pointon qualified in sixth position for the two-hour race on the legendary Belgian circuit. A solid first half of the race from Callum enabled Patrik to take over the car in fifth, however a penalty picked up in the first stint prevented the pair from finishing on the podium. Nonetheless, a strong stint from Patrik enabled the HHC Motorsport team finish in seventh, maintaining their 100% points scoring finishes this season.
The first action of the weekend took place on Saturday morning with the first of two one-hour practice sessions. It was a solid start for the HHC Motorsport pairing who placed inside the top-10 with race performance being the focal point for team. The second practice session saw more competitive running for both drivers in the Ginetta G55 as Patrik set the fastest lap for the car, ending the session in seventh place overall.
Qualifying was always going to be a challenge with the strengths of the car lying in its race pace and management of the tyres, nonetheless a strong starting position would aid their cause for a podium result. Callum drove in the first session and substantially improved on his best time of the weekend so far to set the fifth fastest time in his group, Patrik aimed to better that time in the second session and succeeded, placing 11th in the strong “Pro” session. With the lap times combined to set the grid, Patrik and Callum would line up sixth for the two-hour event at Spa-Francorchamps.
Lining up on the third row of the grid, Callum did a great job to hold his position on the opening lap as the safety car was deployed. Racing resumed on lap four with close battles throughout the GT4 field. On lap seven, Pointon lost out to Dean MacDonald’s BMW before a series of position changes between the pair, in addition to Graham Johnson’s McLaren, saw Callum move the HHC Motorsport Ginetta into the top-5. This released Callum into clean air for the final portion of his stint which allowed him to set personal best times and extend a small gap to the drivers behind.
After a good end to the stint, Callum pitted on lap 21 to hand over to Patrik with a second safety car deployed as Patrik left the pits. Matthiesen re-joined in fifth position and looked to have a great chance to fight for a podium with the leading seven drivers running nose-to-tail behind the safety car. Unfortunately, Patrik had to serve a stop-and-go penalty once the racing resumed for an incident which took place during Callum’s stint, dropping the HHC Motorsport Ginetta into seventh. Despite the setback, Matthiesen continued to set personal best lap times, excelling through the middle sector where he set the overall best time in GT4. A further safety car would’ve brought Patrik back into contention, but this failed to materialise with the gap to the drivers ahead too large to make up in the final stages of the race. Nonetheless, Patrik consistently remained the fastest GT4 car in the closing laps to finish the race in seventh, collecting vital championship points.
Despite Spa-Francorchamps not playing into the hands of the Ginetta G55, Patrik and Callum demonstrated their speed by competing with the leading McLaren’s, especially in race conditions. The result has dropped Patrik and Callum down to second in the championship standings, behind Spa-Francorchamps winner Jack Mitchell, with the HHC Motorsport crew half a point ahead of the #4 Tolman Motorsport McLaren. The next round of the championship will take place at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time with both their championship rivals facing pit-stop penalties, adding to the excitement as the season reaches its climax.
By Liam Redford