Young British karting star Matthew Parry continued his impressive start to life on the European circuit by following up fourth place in the RGMMC Rotax Winter Cup with a stunning second in the opening round of the RGMMC Rotax Euro Challenge.

In only his second overseas event since graduating from Minimax during the winter, Parry was immediately on the pace at the 1700m Zuera circuit, situated close to Zaragoza in northern Spain, running towards the head of a 41-strong international Junior Max field throughout two-and-a half days of official testing.

Held over four rounds – in Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic and France – the RGMMC competition awards four World Finals entries to the leading runners in each category and, with every round to count, it was imperative that Parry made a strong start to his season.

February’s Winter Cup had provided a glimpse of his potential for success, and Friday’s qualifying session confirmed that the testing pace shown by the Paul Carr Racing-run driver was no fluke as Parry dominated to claim fastest time, and pole position for each of the three heats that would follow on Saturday.

After some changeable weather earlier in the week – winds were so high on day one that few of the teams even attempted to erect their awnings, but the majority of practice was run in pleasant sunshine – Saturday’s heats saw the return of cold, overcast and windy conditions. Parry, however, was undeterred and made the most of Friday’s qualifying effort to claim victory in his first two heats. He also appeared on course for success in his third and final heat, only to see fellow Briton Josh Webster come through to claim the honours.

Although two wins and a second would have been expected to yield pole for the Pre-Final, the slip proved costly, as Webster’s unusual 100% heat record meant that Parry would have to line up second - and on the unfavourable outside line – on Sunday.

True to form, a touch from behind in the first corner of Sunday’s opening race sent the 15-year old spinning to the rear of field, requiring him to produce one of his trademark recovery drives if he was to get anything out of a weekend that had previously looked fruitful.

Incredibly, despite the quality of the field – 34 of which made it through to Sunday for the Pre-Final and Final – Parry managed to pick off over half of those ahead of him, eventually taking the chequered flag in 15th spot, giving him the belief that the same might be possible in the main event later in the day.

Moved to 14th on the grid for the Final, the Bury St Edmunds youngster wasted little time in improving further – vaulting from row seven to sit in fourth place well before the end of lap one. Sadly for Parry, however, the first red flag of the weekend meant that the grid would have to be reset, undoing all his hard work.

Undeterred, he moved straight back into the top ten at the restart and proceeded to work his way through the pack to catch the leading trio. Needing to pass opponents from Estonia and the Netherlands before he could tackle Webster, Parry made short work of both, only to run wide and cede the positions back again. A second attack proved more successful and, once clear, he began closing inexorably on his fellow Briton to set up a fight to the finish.

Despite closing at 0.3secs a lap – underlining the fact that he was the fastest in class all weekend – Parry ultimately paid the price for being delayed in the battle for second, coming up eight-tenths shy of Webster as the chequered flag fell.

“I knew that I could be very fast this weekend and, with Paul Carr’s help, I achieved that,” Parry commented afterwards, “I definitely feel that I have ironed out most of the little errors I was making, and have shown that I can compete at the highest level in Europe.

“This result, while not producing the win I wanted, gives me a lot of confidence, and I am now really looking forward to the start of the British national championships – Super 1 – at Whilton Mill at the start of April.”

Parry’s next outing will, indeed, come in the opening round of the Super 1 Series this weekend (4-5 April), and team boss Paul Carr sees no reason why the successful start to the season cannot continue at Whilton Mill.

“I have had some very talented young drivers come through my awning over the years, but Matthew is one of the best in recent times, “ he commented, “I was delighted with his performance in Zuera, which showed true courage, true speed and true concentration, and I am very much looking forward, not only to Whilton Mill, but also to the next RGMMC Rotax Euro Challenge round in Italy.”


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.