Despite heading to the penultimate round of the Dunlop InterSteps Championship with a chance to wrap up his first single-seater title, Matt Parry will have to wait until the season finale before his fate is known, after running into his first mechanical problems of the 2012 campaign.

After claiming 102 points from a potential 103 – for the second time this season - at the previous round at Pembrey, Parry headed to Rockingham Motor Speedway holding a commanding lead in the standings, but a series of misfortunes ensured that he failed to add to his impressive victory tally, and recorded his first non-finishes of the year, as his main rival cut into the advantage.

Although free practice failed to see the Fortec Motorsport driver top the times, his absence was due to a tactical decision to preserve his tyres for the two qualifying sessions and three races that were to follow, and the ploy appeared to pay early dividends as the #1 machine claimed a brace of front row starts, including pole position for race two. Unfortunately, Parry also ran into tyre troubles during the qualifying phase, suffering a puncture in the opening session, costing him vital track time and restricting him to an unrepresentative fourth on the grid for race one.

“The flat tyre meant that we couldn’t get the best out of the car,” the Welshman commented, “There wasn’t enough time to replace it and get back out there, so we only did four laps. The second session, however, showed what we were capable of, taking pole for race two and only missing top spot for race three by 0.006secs…..”

Despite his relatively lowly starting spot for the opening 15-lap encounter, Parry wasted little time in making up ground, latching onto early leader Matt Mason on the opening lap. The gap between the top two yo-yo’d between 0.5 and 1.5secs without Parry being in a position to challenge, but second place and the points for fastest lap limited the inroads made by his biggest rival.

The Fortec driver’s weekend was to take a downward turn on Sunday, however, despite him again slotting in to an early second place in race two. The arrival of the safety car kept Mason in check, but proved to be bad news for Parry, whose oil pressure dived while running at reduced pace, forcing him into his first retirement of the season.

Race three was even more frustrating, as a sticking throttle on the opening lap sent the green-and-gold machine of the AirAsia Caterham Driver Development Programme protégé to the pits at the end of lap one, and again on lap three, ultimately leaving him four laps behind and unclassified at the finish. With Mason taking a clean sweep of wins, a brace of poles and two fastest laps, Parry’s misfortune saw his rival close to within 52 points with a maximum of 103 on offer as just the Croft triple-header remains to be run.

“Rockingham was definitely a weekend to put in the rear view mirror as quickly as possible,” Parry admitted, “While we managed to limit our losses in race one, there was nothing I could do about either of the others, and that saw my championship lead cut almost in half. However, that will hopefully have got our bad luck out of the way in one go – we hadn’t finished off the podium in any race before that – and we can go to Croft and make sure that we get the points we need to finish the year on a high note.”

The final three races of Parry’s Dunlop InterSteps Championship campaign take place at Croft, in North Yorkshire, over the weekend of 29-30 September.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.