Matthew Parry achieved another of his 2009 season goals by clinching one of the automatic qualifying slots for the tenth annual Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals with second place in the RGMMC Euro Challenge finale at Salbris.

Knowing that a top four overall finish, or leading rookie status, would be enough to take him to the World Finals at the Ghibli Raceway in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt in December, the Paul Carr Racing ace made the comparatively shorter trip to France locked in a tight five-way Junior Rotax battle with fellow Britons Josh Webster and Ed Brand, Holland’s Kay van Kemenade and Estonian Aavo Talvar.

Sitting fourth prior to the final round, Parry could not afford too many slip-ups, but turned in another consummate performance to ensure his passage as the overall order remained unchanged despite some typically close racing.

Knowing that toppling Webster from top spot was going to rely on the long-time leader doing something catastrophic, attention turned to racing for overall position and the pride of claiming victory in the round itself, while keeping an eye on Talvar, who retained an outside chance of ousting one of the leading quarter and claiming a trip to Egypt for himself.

Good weather blessed all five days of the meeting, allowing Parry to find his rhythm early on. With Webster surprisingly off the pace, his rivals took advantage to occupy the top of the timesheets, with the PCR kart claiming fourth in both practice sessions, and then repeating the feat in a qualifying session where the top 20 were covered by a single second.

The same names played leading roles throughout the heats, with Parry claiming fourth again behind Brand in race one, and then moving into the runners-up position behind his friend and rival second time out. His bid for the front of the grid for the Pre-Final, however, was dented in the third and final heat, when a mid-race ‘moment’ left the PCR-run Kosmic kart sideways going down the main straight. Only quick reactions from Parry prevented the incident costing more than a handful of positions, and seventh at the chequered flag was still good enough for a spot on the second row for the Pre-Final.

A great start to the first of the weekend’s point-scoring races then saw the 15-year old vault straight past van Kemenade and Talvar to slot in behind Brand, with whom he had enjoyed a front-running battle before claiming a maiden European victory in the Czech Republic last month. Despite putting pressure on the leader throughout the nine laps, however, the Bury St Edmunds youngster was unable to find a way past, and had to settle for second, giving him a front row start for the main final.

Despite van Kemenade making a play for second spot on the opening lap, Parry quickly regained his starting position but, again, his pursuit of Brand was to prove frustrating, with his fellow Briton simply too consistent out front. With Webster completing the podium, the British contingent again underlined its strength, with all three booking places in the World Finals in December by sandwiching van Kemenade in third spot in the overall standings.

“Ed was the most consistent driver throughout the weekend and fully deserved to win,” Parry – who finished fourth overall, just eleven points off the lead - admitted afterwards, “I knew that he’d have to do something stupid for me to be able to overtake him, and it was good for us to finish as the top two once again after leading the way at Sosnova.

“Now we can both look forward to heading to Sharm El-Sheikh for the World Finals in December, which was ultimately the target for both of us this weekend.”

Parry will renew his friendly rivalry with Brand this coming weekend, as the pair head to the Super 1 Championship showdown at PF International split by a single point at the top of the standings. Although Brand holds the upper hand when dropped scores are taken into account, Parry has already enjoyed success at PFI this season, setting up another intriguing battle.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.