Rising star Matthew Parry made a promising first appearance in the Junior Max class with a top six finish in the London Cup at Rye House.

The final result, however, belied a strong showing from the Bury St Edmunds youngster, who looked set for a debut podium until mechanical problems in the main event undid his good work in both qualifying and the heats.

Graduating from the MiniMax class after a successful season in both the Stars of Tomorrow and Super 1 championships, Parry was using the annual London Cup as a chance to sample the next rung on the Rotax ladder as he ponders his options for 2009, and appeared immediately at home in the higher category.

Despite atrocious conditions greeting the near 200-strong all-class entry, and being disadvantaged by having to play catch-up after missing Thursday testing in favour of his schooling, Parry was quickly on the pace in the short practice sessions afforded the drivers before qualifying on Friday. He then posted the fifth best lap in the timed session to earn himself a healthy dose of early points before racing began on the weekend

Saturday’s three heats, held in better conditions, showed the 14-year old at his best, as he moved from 14th to second in his first race and held on to third from a similar grid position in his second outing. Further success appeared possible in heat three, despite the Ultimate Motorsport driver starting from the back of the grid, but Parry’s progress through the field was ended in dramatic fashion when he was taken out by another kart, which eventually landed on top of him.

Despite the setback, the youngster’s earlier results proved good enough to put him sixth on the grid for Sunday’s Pre-Final, behind the two drivers – Super 1 Junior Max champion Joseph Reilly and Hoddesdon club champion Michael Epps – who appeared to be his closest rivals in a field containing several leading Stars and Super 1 runners.

With the rain returning with a vengeance, Parry was required to show the sort of wet weather prowess that had brought him attention throughout his Stars campaign, and quickly latched on to Reilly and Epps as the leading trio pulled away from the pack. After a clean and sensible race, the Ultimate driver eventually claimed second place, and a front row spot alongside Reilly for his first final in the Junior Max category.

Although the rain had eased by the time the main event came around, the track remained very wet, but both Reilly and Parry made good starts to run side-by-side into the first turn. Perhaps showing a little inexperience, Parry then found himself forced wide at Stadium, dropping to fourth, but, undaunted, he remained in the hunt and moved back into second spot, behind Epps, when Reilly fell foul of the conditions on lap two.

Any hope that the Ultimate driver may have had of catching the leader, however, disappeared around half-distance when his kart ran into problems with its brake master cylinder. With excessive brake wear on one side and only 30% of its stopping ability remaining, Parry battled on under increasing pressure from local racer Reece Wad before being caught out at Pylon with just a few laps to run.

The ensuing spin dropped him down the order and, without the ability to race hard in pursuit of those ahead of him, Parry had to settle for sixth at the end of what had been a challenging debut weekend in a new class.

“Sixth place is disappointing after we had shown the potential to do much better,” Parry sighed at the end of the meeting, “I really think that we could have been on the podium this weekend – which would have been a great result in our first outing in Junior Max.

“However, getting onto the front row, and in the sort of conditions that we had this weekend, was still a great achievement and, even though we are still not decided about what to race next year, this has been a useful pointer.”

Parry will continue to get to grips with Junior Max at a club meeting at PF International this weekend [1-2 November], but is expected to try out a KF3 machine in the coming weeks as he explores all his options for 2009.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.