IMPRESSING ON GP3 DEBUT



Matt Parry widened his options for graduation in 2015 after producing a strong showing on his first acquaintance with the GP3 Series.

The Welshman enjoyed three days behind the wheel with the Status Grand Prix and Koiranen GP teams at the stunning Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, and made an immediate mark with strong performances across nearly 15 hours of track time.

After getting accustomed to his new surroundings, Parry was quickly up to speed in the opening session, running two sets of new tyres in a bid to get to grips with the idiosyncrasies of the Pirelli rubber after a couple of seasons using Michelins in Formula Renault. Reviewing data and making changes during the lunch break then helped the 20-year old find more time and, despite now running on older tyres, he was able to improve his time to 1m 56.472s and end the day seventh fastest among the 23 drivers in action.

Although making further changes to the car overnight did not initially yield another gain in time on the morning of day two, the session did provide Parry with an opportunity to explore other areas of development, before returning to the tried-and-trusted set-up of day one after the interval. Happier with the handling of his car, the reigning McLaren Autosport BRDC Driver of the Year was immediately back on the pace and, lowering his personal best to 1m 55.744s, again filled seventh spot on the timesheets.

“It was great to work with the Status team, which has established itself as a leader in the GP3 Series in the past few years,” Parry commented, “I quickly felt at home in the car on day one and I think my time was representative of the improvement I was able to make across the two sessions. I lost a bit of time messing around with set-up on the second morning, and went too stiff with the set-up, which caused me to push too hard to compensate, which you cannot do on the Pirelli tyre. It’s all part of the learning curve and, while I was happy to be back on the pace after the interval, it’s a little frustrating as I think I could have been in the top two or three overall.”

Despite admitting that he would have liked to have kept working with Status, having only been slated for two days with the Silverstone-based team, Parry was able to continue his GP3 education by picking up a seat at Koiranen for the third and final day.

Although he had to get used to working with a new crew, the Briton was soon on the pace, picking up from where he had left off on day two. With the track proving slower than it had previously, there was no improvement in time, but Parry moved up the order to fill fourth spot in the morning session, and felt that there was more to come.

His optimism seemed well founded as he steadily made improvements, and it looked as the Koiranen car was about to vault to the top of the pile only for traffic in the final sector to prove Parry’s undoing. With the field closely-packed at the top of the timesheets, the delay was enough to drop the Welshman to the lower reaches of the top ten, although he still compared well with more experienced drivers.

“It was great to be able to climb into the Koiranen car and immediately recreate the pace I showed with Status,” the Sport Wales ambassador admitted, “Koiranen is another great team, having helped Dean Stoneman to finish second overall in 2014, and it was useful to have an established benchmark like Jimmy Eriksson to compare myself with. The only frustrating thing was running into traffic at the end of my best lap as, without that, I reckon I would have been close to breaking into the 1m 54s and potentially being quickest of all.”

Parry’s performance was such that he left Abu Dhabi adding GP3 to his list of possible series for 2015, as he looks to step up after a frustrating season the Formula Renault Eurocup. He will continue to test both Formula Renault and F3 through to the middle of December while looking for the right deal for next season.

 

Article created by Craig Llewellyn.