Matt Parry continued his impressive start to the 2014 Formula Renault season with a display of pace and passing prowess during the opening round of the ALPS series at Imola in Italy.

Sadly for the Caterham Racing Academy protégé, who has been among the pacesetters at every pre-season Eurocup test, his potential was not rewarded on the result sheet as a combination of misfortunes contrived to leave him facing an uphill task in both of the weekend’s races.

Already familiar with the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari from a podium appearance there in 2013, Parry started strongly to sit comfortably amongst the leading runners in practice. He then carried his form over into qualifying, setting the pace in his group whilst the track was at its wettest on Saturday morning. As the surface began to dry, however, a slight delay in switching to slick tyres allowed his main rival to steal a march and, as he tried to close the gap, a minor misjudgement approaching Acque Minerale launched the Fortec driver into a 100mph accident.

“I just put a rear wheel slightly too far onto the artificial grass and, because it was still wet, that was enough to spit me off the circuit,” Parry explained, “Fortunately I was unhurt, but the accident came at just the wrong time, as the track was drying quickly, and that allowed the other drivers to put in faster and faster laps.”

Worse still for the 20-year old Sport Wales ambassador, causing a red flag interruption cost him his best lap from the session and, with the remainder of his marks coming from the wetter part of qualifying, he was forced to start race one from an unrepresentative 20th on the grid. With no let-up in the conditions, and starting in the midst of a 40-strong field, Parry decided to use the race as an opportunity to practice passing other cars, defying the belief that Formula Renault is a difficult series in which to overtake by making up no fewer than eleven places to take the chequered flag in ninth spot.

“I felt that I would have been on pole position had I been able to make it to the end of qualifying, so I just had to make the best of it and see how far I could get in the race,” he said, “Although the conditions remained tricky, I was able to pass a fair number of cars and get into the points positions.”

Pleased with his performance, and starting from 13th on the grid for race two, the reigning McLaren Autosport BRDC young driver of the year was confident of challenging for the podium on Sunday, particularly as the conditions had taken a turn for the better and presented the field with a dry track. However, as he set off on his formation lap, Parry’s starter motor failed, stranding him on the grid and sending him to the back of the pack for the start of the race.

Harsher still, receiving assistance to move his car also resulted in a drive-thru’ penalty, leaving the Welshman firmly on the back foot for the 16-lap encounter. Despite that, he put his head down, lapping at the same pace as the leaders and producing another overtaking masterclass as he gained 15 places to come home 25th overall.

“The result really doesn’t do the race justice,” Parry commented afterwards, “We clearly had pace to threaten the top two, but unfortunately were at the wrong end of the field. However, there are still plenty of positives to take from the weekend, particularly the fact that I was able to rehearse so much overtaking just a couple of weeks before the opening round of the Formula Renault Eurocup.

“It can definitely be termed a character-building weekend, but hopefully I’ve got all my bad luck out of the way now, and can enjoy a strong – and successful – season.”

The 2014 Formula Renault Eurocup kicks off with an opening round at the Ciudad del Motor de Aragón in southern Spain over the weekend of 26-27 April.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.