Matt Parry made a welcome return to the GP3 Series points as the championship made its first appearance in Malaysia, but admitted that the weekend fell below both his, and the Koiranen GP team’s lofty expectations.

Having seen his championship ambitions take a hit at the final European rounds in Belgium and Italy, Parry was hoping that the month-long break before returning to action at Sepang would not only bring a change of fortune, but also a return to the front-running form that had seen him take victory and podiums through the heart of the season.

Having had to settle for only the twelfth fastest time in practice as he reacquainted himself with the Malaysian Grand Prix venue, Parry and the Koiranen team opted to try something a little different in qualifying in the hope of stealing a march on what was expected to be a tightly-packed field. Running earlier than most on both sets of tyres, however, only yielded the same result and, despite appearing well up the order through the middle of the session, the Welshman again found himself on the outside of row six once the chequered flag had fallen.

From such a mid-grid position, things could have gone one of two ways for Parry but, fortunately, on this occasion, he was able to avoid the first lap mayhem and pick up a handful of places. However, once into ninth place, he was unable to make any further progress through the group ahead and, despite adding a couple of points to his seasonal tally, missed the reverse grid pole position by a single place, just as he had at Monza.

The thin line between starting first and ninth in the second race of the weekend can often have a big impact on Sunday’s results, but Parry was determined not to let the disappointment of a fifth row start affect him and, after making a good getaway, was perfectly placed to capitalise on the chaos that erupted ahead of him. Taking advantage of the two championship leaders duelling to his left, the 22-year old held the inside line to immediately pick up places into turn one. Seventh quickly became fifth, as Parry out the #14 car on the tail of third title contender Antonio Fuoco and, having harried the Italian for several laps, was able to make a move on lap five to inch closer to a potential podium.

Unfortunately, having to fight through the pack had allowed the leaders to establish a gap and, although he kept them in sight, Parry was unable to reduce the deficit over the remaining nine laps, a task made all the more difficult by knowing that points leader Charles Leclerc was mounting a charge behind him. The pair finished just 0.3secs apart, but Parry held on to add another eight points to his total for the year and post his best result since finishing on the podium in Germany.

“Finishing fourth had a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time, but I’ll take it,” a relieved Parry conceded, “I’d already had a little bit of luck in race one that allowed me to pick up a few places, but it was frustrating not to have been able to get one more and start Sunday’s race from pole. We made big changes to the car overnight and it was much improved from race one, but still wasn’t quick enough to stay with the cars at the front. I knew that Leclerc was coming up behind me after I’d passed him on the opening lap, but I was determined to hold onto fourth and bolster my championship tally as I look to regain a spot in the top five overall.”

Parry remains seventh on the standings heading to the ninth and final round of the 2016 GP3 Series, which takes place in support of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit over the weekend of 25-27 November.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.