Matt Mason is one a host of new faces taking part in the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship. The 18 year old is making his debut in the series this year with MGR Motorsport and TCF chatted with him at the recent Formula Renault BARC Media Day to see how things were going ahead of the upcoming season.
Like many young drivers, Matt began his Motorsport career in Karting and enjoyed a successful period in it, as he explains: “I started in 2005, just doing a few club races, that sort of thing. When it came to about 2008, we started doing the national championships like Super One and Stars of Tomorrow. In the first year of doing them we did really well to be fair, I finished eighth and fourth and was the first Englishmen in Stars, which is quite good so we were happy with that.
“We went on up to the senior class for 2009 and had an alright year. The highlight was at a track called Shenington, where we won the British Open Championship. In 2010 we went for the same sort of thing again, doing a bit of Super One and Seniors. We finished eighth in the championship but we should have finished sort of top three, top four, but we went into the last round about fourth or fifth and we had a disaster, an absolute disaster.”
The Nottingham-based driver decided this year was the right time to make the step up into car racing and looked into various options for the season: “We looked at the Formula Renault UK but that was way out of our league price wise, and then we looked at the Clios and that was more expensive than the BARC.
“We got a few really good offers for the BARC and after doing a test at Brands Hatch with Mtech; I had a little talk around, got to know some people and decided to go with MGR.”
“The set ups great here, Mark [Godwin] has got a load of experience, he's renowned as one of the best engineers out there. He offered us a really good package so we said we'd like to go with them.”
Racing on a tight budget means testing has been limited over the winter for Matt, meaning he was happy get some much needed track time around the Silverstone National circuit on Media Day. He admits it was an up and down day though: “Today's been alright I'd say, but I'm not very happy with it if I'm honest. We started the day about one and a half seconds off or something, which was alright for a first session getting into the swing of things as its only really my fourth day out in the car.
“The second session went a little bit better, in comparison to my team mate Russell Danzey; we went about three tenths quicker than him in that session, which was good. But then in the next one, I just felt that I sort of couldn't go that much faster with the tyres that I had and I was starting to slide around everywhere.
“We put half a set of new tyres on in that one; just on the left hand side to keep the car staying on and we found six tenths of a second but were still off the pace. I'm a bit frustrated as I don't know what I need to do now to get back on the pace. I'm not used to being this off the pace.”
Despite the struggles in testing, Matt believes that with more testing planned before the season's opener, he will be ready to challenge at the front of the pack when the season starts and is setting his goals for the season accordingly: “I set my hopes quite high really. I'd like to finish top five in the championship and I'd be a bit disappointed if I don't get that if I'm honest, but we'll see how it goes.”