Matt Barnard: Under 25 Champion

The second staging of the 25 and Under, Young Guns Championship could not of been any more wide open. The inaugural 2015 staging saw 15 cars take to the track in damp conditions, but it was a fantastic race; with the grid for the 2016 staging set to top that, more cars and talent all capable of winning, it was going to be a tough race.

Sunday 29th May at Skegness, former top Ministox Driver, Matt Barnard (69) moved up to the V8 Hotstox, less than a handful of days after his 16th birthday. A steady first meeting off the back, Matt showed promise. The very next day Matt went off the front and to his credit placed fourth in the meeting final.

Just over three months later, Matt lined up on pole of the 20 car grid and raced off to victory and took the 25 and Under Young Guns Championship on Sunday 4th September; possibly the youngest ever champion in a senior formula? A very mature drive, start to finish and only a nervy yellow flag period to slow him down; to win not only the championship, but his maiden victory in the formula. Matt tells us more:

“Winning the Under 25s felt so amazing, to be able to race against some of the biggest names in the sport like Jolly and Wainman is amazing, let alone being able to beat them! I’m definitely looking forward to going out next year and hopefully defending the title, against even more drivers I’m sure!! My main focus in the race was trying to be consistent, but also quick, and trying not to over pressure myself into making a silly mistake. After the initial 4 or five laps I glanced in my mirror and saw I had quite a large gap, so I told myself to hold off a little and try and conserve the tyres for the rest of the race. On the yellows I tried to stay as calm and relaxed as I could, I knew there were only 4 laps left but there were no back markers between me and second and I knew he wouldn’t let me get away if he had the chance. I messed up the start a little but managed to break away and tried to push the car a little too hard and the car began to push, as soon as the last lap came I made sure to take it steady to make sure I didn’t end up spinning on the last bend, it felt so amazing to win!”

“The V8s are great, fun to drive and some great, fair racing aswell. I struggled a little at the beginning, more so on shale as I’d had a few practices at Birmingham. I struggled with keeping the back end in on tarmac and getting it out on shale, it’s so different to minis!! Adding 200bhp and rear wheel drive means it’s been challenging, especially on shale where I’ve had more than a couple spins! It’s great to be racing against other ex-mini drivers and I think we’ve all shown what were capable of, with Jedd coming 2nd in the European, Joe taking heat and final at Coventry and Sophie always being constantly up there in the points. I would definitely recommend V8s to current mini drivers as it’s a great formula to race and also a great feeder formula into the big leagues of F1.”

“The goal for the remainder of the season is definitely to go and win novice of the year!! I’d love to win it, especially as it’s been very competitive with the other mini drivers to claim the title. I’d just like to thank everyone who sponsors me and helps out, my mum for the endless support and Clint for the advice with both set up and driving, but especially my dad for all the work he puts into preparing the car and making sure it’s ready by race day!!”

25 and Under Young Guns Championship Trophy result: 69 176 288 498 298 154 101 324 242 262

Thank you to photo contributor: Colin Casserley