Matt Parry finally claimed his maiden GP3 Series victory by leading from start to finish in Saturday's feature race at the Hungaroring.

Having been denied a podium appearance on home soil at Silverstone two weeks previously, the Briton laid down an early marker in Budapest by going fastest of all in Friday’s practice session, and appeared on course for top spot in Saturday morning’s qualifying session, only for McLaren protege Nyck de Vries to pip him with the very last lap of the session. Once again, a red flag interrupted qualifying and, this time, it came at just the wrong time for Parry, who was unable to improve on his fastest time as a result.

“The opportunity was definitely there to take pole, but I think Nyck got a little luckier than us,” he explained, “I was just about to start a flying lap when the red flag appeared, so I’d already done one quick lap on my last set of tyres, whereas he had only just left the pits, so he was able to cruise around and save his rubber, which probably explains the gap between our times. Despite that, I think we maximised the package we had on the car and continued the good work we’d done in practice. It’s always a good feeling to be on the pace straight away and you know when things are right when you’re not having to try too hard to go fast!”

While starting on the front row was already an improvement on recent qualifying positions, Parry was handed another boost ahead of Saturday’s race when de Vries’ car refused to fire up on the grid, but he initially appeared to have thrown away his unexpected advantage by making a slow getaway. Just as it appeared that he may be passed by both Antonio Fuoco and Jake Dennis, however, the 22-year old held his nerve and braked later than both his rivals to keep the lead into turn one.

From there, he was able to extend an early lead, first to one second, then two, as he established control over his pursuers. Even when Fuoco trimmed the lead back under 2secs, Koiranen GP driver Parry simply upped his pace, as if to warn the Italian that there was no point thinking about anything other than finishing as runner-up.

While others were being warned for exceeding track limits - Parry's undoing as he lost a front row start for his home race at Silverstone - the Welshman maintained a tidy line for 22 laps around the sinuous Budapest circuit before taking the familiar Hungaroring marshals' salute as he savoured a 3.2secs victory over Ferrari-supported Fuoco.

“It’s awesome to finally get that first win in GP3,” Parry admitted, “I know we’ve had the pace to run up front, and had podiums last year, but it’s a great feeling to stand on the very top step. It’s been a while since I last did that, but I think that both the team and I deserved it. Koiranen GP did a fantastic job, there were no issues with the car and I made no mistakes, so everything came together at the right moment.

“The only negative was my start, which wasn’t great. I’d been looking forward to challenging de Vries into turn one but, once he had his problem, the gap between rows one and two was just enough to keep me in front. After that, it was just a question of maintaining my advantage over those behind. I could have shown more pace if I wanted, but I didn’t really have to push. I tried for the fastest lap, which would have given me a few extra points, but it was more a question of making no mistakes and not throwing the win away.”

The victory, which makes Parry the fifth different winner in seven races in 2016, lifts the Sport Wales/MuscleUp Apparel-backed driver to fifth in the standings, with a good opportunity to take a shot at fourth overall in Sunday's sprint event, where he will line up eighth on the partially-reversed grid.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.