Matt Parry’s 2014 Formula Renault Eurocup campaign got off to a difficult start at the Motorland Aragon circuit in southern Spain, culminating in a first corner retirement in the weekend’s second race.

Parry’s problems had started well before that, however, as his pre-season testing pace failed to translate into a similarly strong performance in either practice or qualifying, leaving the reigning Formula Renault Northern European Cup champion with a lot to do from middle-of-the-grid positions in both races.

Caterham Racing Academy protégé Parry had shown that he had the pace to rival anyone in the field during a ‘warm-up’ outing in the Formula Renault ALPS series at Imola, but never quite got on top of the Eurocup’s new tyre and brake specifications, which left the entire Fortec Motorsports team on the back foot and chasing the pack in the vital timed sessions.

Although he admitted to driving below par in Friday morning practice, Parry was happier with his performance in the afternoon session, but found that his overall position hardly changed, and it was a similar story in qualifying, where the three Fortec runners again found themselves in the middle of the pack.

“No matter what we tried, we just couldn’t break out of that part of the timesheets, so it was pretty representative of our potential for the weekend,” Parry sighed, “We never got on top of the tyres and brakes and that left us playing catch-up. We were still experimenting going into qualifying, which was never going to be a good thing.”

Despite his relatively lowly 13th position on the grid for Saturday afternoon’s race, Parry underlined his reputation as a canny racer, passing two rivals on the opening lap to edge closer to the top ten. Buoyed by his early gains, he then picked off another three cars on lap two, and a sixth next time around, to slot into seventh spot with the majority of the race remaining. Although the 2013 McLaren Autosport BRDC Driver of the Year then bridged the gap to sixth place, overtaking became tougher and, despite several attempts to claim another position, it quickly became clear that battling was allowing the pack to close in again.

“I made good early progress and was picking up places quite easily but, once I got into seventh, I had to be more careful,” Parry confirmed, “Although it appeared that I had the pace to tackle the car ahead of me, the fact that we were fighting over the position was slowing us both up, and I decided that it was more sensible to settle for some solid points rather than undo my earlier hard work.”

Despite going into qualifying for race two in a confident frame of mind, Parry again found himself limited to a mid-grid position, this time further back than on Saturday as a new ‘problem’ left him ninth in his group and 18th overall. From there, the Sport Wales ambassador was deep in the ‘danger zone’ as the lights went out and, after being clipped from behind, spun into retirement at the opening corner.

“Our pace was still missing in second qualifying, but it didn’t help that I hit the rev limiter on my fastest lap and probably cost myself a couple of tenths in the final sector,” Parry explained, “Unfortunately, in a series as closely-fought as this it meant that, instead of being third in my group, I was ninth and that led to the incident that ended my race prematurely. It’s one of those things when you’re mired in the middle of the pack and I just have to accept it, however frustrating it may be. I’m certainly more determined to make sure I’m well out of the way next time though!”

Round two of the 2014 Formula Renault Eurocup takes place at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium – where Parry won in last year’s NEC campaign - over the weekend of 31 May-1 June.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.