SCALING THE ALPS PODIUM



Matt Parry received a welcome late-season boost as he claimed a podium finish in the Formula Renault ALPS finale at Jerez de la Frontera two weeks before his Formula Renault Eurocup campaign comes to a close at the same venue.

The Briton has not seen fortune favour him too often in 2014, but put that aside to emerge as one of the men to beat early in the weekend, lapping consistently in the top two once he had found his feet in opening practice. Having visited the southern Spanish circuit as part of his pre-season preparations, Parry was already familiar with the Jerez layout, and was quickly into his stride, claiming the second fastest time in final practice to set himself up for qualifying.

Unfortunately, the method used to determine the grids for ALPS races involves two separate qualifying groups, and it was typical of Parry’s luck that he should find himself in the same half of the draw as the only driver to match his times. With just a slim margin separating them, it was always going to be close in the battle for top spot, but Parry eventually missed out by a couple of tenths and would have to settle for a spot on row two for both of the weekend’s races.

“If I’d been in the other half of the draw, I know I would have been on the front row,” Parry acknowledged, “In the end, I only missed out by a small amount, and that was down to me. It was good to be running right at the front of the field again, and getting so close to the fastest time gave me great confidence for the races.”

With several Eurocup frontrunners in the 31-car field, the level of competition was high, and Parry had to be on his mettle at the start of race one on Saturday evening. With his group starting from the outside of the grid, he held on to fourth place into turn one and maintained his position throughout, despite pressure from Dennis Olsen in the closing stages.

Race two proved to be a similar story as, with the combination of the current Formula Renault car and Jerez’s switchback layout not presenting too many passing opportunities, the field ran largely in the same order as it had formed up on the grid. This time, however, Parry’s group had started from the odd-numbered positions, meaning that the Caterham Racing Academy protégé was always in a podium position.

Once again, Olsen provided the pressure from behind, but Parry set his sights on second-placed Egor Orudzhev, knowing that if he could find a way past, he could run with leader – and new series champion – Nyck de Vries. Try as he might, however, Parry would ultimately be denied, having to settle for third place as de Vries took the chequered flag just four seconds up the road.

“It’s frustrating, as I showed all weekend that I was the only one that could run with de Vries” the Sport Wales ambassador sighed, “Overtaking wasn’t easy for anyone this weekend, and I didn’t really want to try anything rash just to gain another position in a championship I’m not entered for.

“The podium was a bonus as the main purpose of this weekend was to gather as much data as possible ahead of the final round of the Eurocup here at Jerez in two weeks’ time. I think we achieved that – and the performance all weekend has been very encouraging, so I am really looking forward to coming back and doing just as well to end the season on a high.”

Round seven of the 2014 Formula Renault Eurocup takes place at Jerez de la Frontera, in the south-west of Spain, over the weekend of over 18-19 October.

 

Article created by Craig Llewellyn.