Matt Parry and the #22 Motul Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 suffered a premature end to their maiden Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup campaign with a DNF at the final round.

Despite playing themselves in slowly during practice, the crew of the #22 remained confident of a good result, both in qualifying and the race, and that optimism appeared to have been borne out when Parry posted a lap in the mid 1m 45s range on his first set of new tyres in the final phase of the grid-setting session, putting the Nissan into P6 when red flags interrupted proceedings.

The team's target time for qualifying had been based on previous performances at the Circuit de Catalunya and Parry was already matching that, prompting some debate over the need to run again on another set of new tyres, a quandary exacerbated by the higher levels of degradation caused by the abrasive Barcelona tarmac. In the end, team and driver opted to park the #22 machine and save a set of fresh rubber for Sunday's season finale - a move that promptly backfired as much of the field improved after the restart, dropping Parry and team-mates Struan Moore and Matt Simmons to an unrepresentative 29th in the final order.

"In hindsight, it was the wrong decision not to go out again - but hindsight is a wonderful thing," Parry admitted, "The question of whether to run again was definitely influenced by the higher levels of tyre wear at this circuit, but we underestimated just how much quicker everyone else would go after the session restarted.

"Having said that, I was super happy with the time that I had managed on my first run, especially as the first sector was still damp. There wasn't much left to find on the lap other than in that sector as it dried, but it's clear that an improvement was there to be had later in the session, and that's frustrating."

As usual, Moore took the start of the race, hoping to propel the #22 up the field in short order, and was doing a great job - moving the car into the top 15 - when a freak incident ended both the run and the car's season. Contact from a chasing Jaguar caught the Nissan in such a spot that the its tow hook damaged the #22's oil pipe supplying the differential, preventing Moore from changing gear and forcing him to pit. Although the team managed to effect rapid repairs, allowing Simmons to rejoin the fray, the car lasted but a few laps before climbing oil temperatures and further gearbox woes forced the car back into the pits.

Again, the RJN crew set about trying to return its charge to the track, completing a gearbox change before sending Parry out to chase the honour of taking fastest lap. The Welshman, however, continued to find it difficult to shift up through the gears and, after a couple laps of trying to drive around the problem, was forced to finally call it a day.

"It's a shame that our season had to end this way," he sighed, "The car was clearly in good order at the start of the race, as Struan was making quick progress through the field, but the incident with the Jaguar did more damage that we initially thought and, despite the team's unstinting efforts, there was nothing we could do after that. I went out after the gearbox change with a qualifying set-up and new tyres in a bid to nab the fastest lap, but there was still a problem with the upshift and we took the wise decision to park the car before any more damage was done."

The DNF was the #22's sole retirement of the Blancpain campaign, but the disappointment of not seeing the chequered flag has only whetted Parry's appetite for a return to the series in 2018.

"There's some unfinished business to be addressed," he smiled, "Next season's some way off, but I can't wait to get started..."


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.