FORMULA RENAULT NEC CHAMPION!


Matt Parry put a successful cap on his Formula Renault Northern European Championship campaign by wrapping up the title with two races to spare amid challenging conditions at Zandvoort in Holland.

Having been denied an earlier chance to clinch the crown by a weekend to forget in the Czech Republic, Parry carried a 75-point advantage to the Netherlands, knowing that matters were still in his hands with just a top five result required from the final triple-header.

Despite several Formula Renault Eurocup runners deciding to add the event to their season’s schedule, the bigger concern for Caterham Racing Academy prospect was the weather, which remained atrocious for much of the weekend. Friday’s official practice day was largely unproductive due to heavy rain, and track conditions, while easing, continued to be treacherous through qualifying on Saturday morning.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much water on a racetrack,” Parry commented, “There had already been a few accidents in the other sessions, and I could see why as soon as I went out… The spray made it almost impossible to see what was going on around you, and the car was aquaplaning a lot, which made it very tough. Fortunately, conditions eased a little for qualifying and, with better visibility, I was able to improve both my times and my position in the field.”

Qualifying third in his group would see the Welshman lining up sixth on the grid for race one, which ran in drier conditions than any other session so far, and he was quickly on the move, picking up a place after just a couple of laps and two more as the race wore on. Although he appeared to have the pace to pick off Eurocup regular Andrea Pizzitola, Parry decided that, in the circumstances and with the necessary top five position secured, discretion was the better part of valour. As it happened, an accident elsewhere brought out the safety car, leaving the 19-year old to celebrate his championship success at a controlled pace….

“I was under strict instructions not to do anything silly” Parry confirmed, “The team reminded me that I didn’t need to win the race to win the title, so I did what was necessary. After the problems we had at Most, I just wanted to make sure I got the job done at the first opportunity, particularly as the forecast for Sunday was, if anything, worse than Friday’s! I’m sure I could have raced Pizzitola for the podium if the situation had been different but, on this occasion, I’m happy to come home fourth.”

With two races still to run, celebrations were kept to a minimum overnight, and the weather on Sunday put a natural dampener on things, as torrential rain returned with a vengeance to the North Sea coast. Despite that, the meeting continued and, from eighth on the grid for race two, Parry again started strongly, picking off Raoul Owens in the opening laps. Unfortunately for the new champion, his rival then lost control in the tricky conditions, sending the green-and-yellow Fortec machine skittering into the gravel trap….

With the weather continuing to close in, and track conditions getting ever more dangerous, the organisers subsequently decided to abandon the meeting before the third and final FRenault NEC encounter, denying Parry a chance to end his season on a high. With the title in his pocket, however, the Sport Wales ambassador wasn’t too disappointed.

“It was probably the right decision in the circumstances,” he admitted, “Obviously, I would have been more upset had the championship not been going my way but, having wrapped it up on Saturday, there was no pressure to go out. It’s unfortunate that I ended my campaign with a DN as the #30 Fortec car was definitely fast enough to challenge for the podium, and I was feeling a lot more comfortable in the conditions, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

The Formula Renault NEC title was Parry’s first in international motorsport, and his second in a row after successfully clinching the UK-based InterSteps series in 2012. The two campaigns bore similar hallmarks, with early domination interrupted by a penultimate round that put the title on hold, before he then claimed the title at the first opportunity in the finale.

“It’s been another good season, and I have much to thank Fortec for,” he noted, “Winning this title is what the year has been all about, and I hope that we can now move on as successfully in whatever series we contest in 2014. Thanks must also go to Caterham and Sport Wales for their support – I’m glad that I was able to repay your faith in me!”

With racing done for another season, Parry’s attention now turns to the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, where he is one of the six finalists chosen to undertake a rigorous series of examinations, on and off track, before the winner is announced in early December.

 

Article created by Craig Llewellyn.