The final weekend of the 2014 Formula Renault Eurocup encapsulated Matt Parry’s season perfectly, as a blend of unrewarded hard work and recurring misfortune produced a mixed bag of results in southern Spain.

Two weeks on from claiming an ALPS series podium at the same circuit, Parry returned to Jerez de la Frontera in confident mood, determined to a least replicate that result in what could be his final weekend in Formula Renault. Having settled in through the opening practice session, the Welshman demonstrated his potential by clocking the second-fastest time – just 0.075secs off the pace - later in the day, and expected to be in the mix when qualifying got underway.

It was frustrating, therefore, when he found himself only sixth-fastest in a close-fought Saturday morning session. With most drivers leaving their qualifying runs until the end of the 15 minutes, an untimely red flag thwarted those aiming for a late push for pole position, and left Parry to start from the middle of the grid for race one early the same afternoon.

“The surface at Jerez is quite abrasive and nobody really wanted to go out too early in order to look after their tyres,” Parry explained, “Unfortunately, the strategy of waiting until the last few minutes is always open to the possibility of a red flag and, despite having gone ‘purple’ [fastest] through the first two sectors, I was denied the chance to complete the lap and take pole position. Sixth in group was not what we were hoping for, and left us in a part of the grid where anything can happen.”

Parry’s fears regarding his starting spot proved to be well founded, as the Fortec driver was one of three unable to avoid a spinning Kevin Jorg, and the ensuing contact ended his race without a lap on the board.

“That was a very short afternoon,” Parry sighed, “Jorg was directly ahead of me on the grid and, when he was turned around, there was nowhere for anyone to go! I wasn’t the only one caught out by the incident but it was enough to end my race there and then! I suppose it’s just typical of my luck this season….”

Determined to end his 2014 Eurocup campaign on a positive note, Parry was grateful to have a second chance on Sunday, immediately capitalising by posting the third fastest time in his qualifying group to at least secure a starting slot closer to the front of the grid. However, with group two proving to be slower overall, the Caterham Racing Academy protégé would start from the less favourable side of the grid, and that proved crucial to his chances of claiming a podium finish.

Although, this time, there was no repeat of the carnage as the lights went out, Parry was unable to force his way between the rows ahead of him, and had to settle back into sixth place as the field set out on its 15 laps. As had been the case during the previous ALPS event, overtaking was at a premium around the snaking Jerez layout and, with no mistakes or unreliability ahead of him, Parry could close on his rivals without having enough in hand to find a way past.

“While qualifying was better second time around, I still wanted to be higher up the grid – and thought we had the potential to make it happen,” Parry commented, “Starting from row three at least gave me the opportunity to see the front of the field, but I couldn’t quite get the launch I needed to make up places immediately and, after that, it was another case of ‘follow the leader’… I could close up on the cars ahead of me – and even get close enough to think about making a move – but it wasn’t to be. I didn’t want to end the season by making a rash move and going home empty-handed, but it’s still a little frustrating….”

The ten points for sixth place were a welcome addition to Parry’s overall tally and cemented eleventh place in the season’s standings, but the final position only served to underline the mixed fortunes that have dogged the Sport Wales ambassador’s 2014 campaign. With his plans for next season still to be determined, the out-going McLaren Autosport BRDC Driver of the Year now turns his attention to the undoubted highlight of 2014, as he prepares to test a McLaren F1 car at Silverstone.

“It’s been a frustrating season, and one in which my performances have not necessarily been reflected in the results, but I aim to put all of that behind me when I get behind the wheel of the McLaren,” Parry concluded, “It is by far the fastest car I will have ever driven and I am looking forward to the opportunity immensely. Winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award seems a long time ago now, but this part of the prize is well worth the wait….”


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.