race 1 report

Matty’s first race of the 2017 British GT championship season was a frustrating affair at Oulton Park, as a mechanical malfunction forced an unscheduled pit stop and with it, the chance of a solid haul of GT4 class points and a third place in Pro/Am.

On a soggy Bank Holiday morning, Graham and team mate Marcus Hoggarth lined up seventh on the GT4 grid, with the York based gentleman driver taking the start and getting away well.

While the rain wasn’t heavy, its persistence ensured plenty of spray to drive into for those anywhere other than the front rows with Hoggarth having to have his wits about him as he battled his way through his half hour stint.

He was sitting second in the pro-am standings, before Mike Robinson’s Ginetta and William Phillips Aston Martin forced their way through, with the In2Racing team reacting immediately to call Hoggarth into the pits and put Matty into the car.

A slick pitstop from the garage crew ensured they hit their minimum time on the nose, with Matty well placed to attack and build on his team-mates solid foundations.

Putting in some of the fastest lap times in GT4, he was working on reducing a nine second deficit to reigning GT4 champion Mike Johnson and fending off the attentions of Team Parker Racing’s Porsche Cayman in sixth place, when the McLaren was hit by a reduction of power.

With the car in limp mode and the problem require a restart, Matty was forced into the pits to have the procedure performed.

It dropped Graham down to 12th in GT4 and seventh in the Pro Am categories and effectively out of the running for any improvement of position.

With the track drying out and knowing he has latent speed in the car, Matty set his sights on setting the fastest GT4 lap of the race, with the track drying out and times tumbling, however a recurrence of the electrical problem put paid to that plan.

While not the opening result he was hoping for, after showing good pace and finishing ahead of both Garage 59 McLarens (the de facto factory team) Matty is hopeful of a better showing in the second race of the day.

Speaking straight out of the car, Matty said: “It’s a shame that the race went the way it did when we were set for good finish and some good points in Pro Am.  Marcus has a good solid stint and was in among a few cars which gave me a good chance of being able to make up places.

“I was feeling relaxed and steady and after passing a car early on, was hoping to be able to close the gap to those up in front.

“The problem put the car into the limp mode and I had to come in to get it reset and hoped to maybe set the fastest lap time, because the pace was good. But the problem came back with a couple of laps to go, so I just had to get it to the chequered flag.

“It was doubly disappointing because the guys have done lot of work since Saturday and it felt like it had helped a lot and made us a lot more competitive.”

British GT’s second race from Oulton Park takes the green flag at 15:15 with Matty set to start from 12th on the grid.

Live coverage is available in the UK via Front Runner TV (Freeview channel 91, Sky channel 468 and Freesat channel 250) or the British GT championship’s official Facebook page.