An audacious strategy looked on course to give rising star Matthew Parry a shot at victory in the prestigious MiniMax ‘O’ Plate event at Clay Pigeon when he was sidelined by an over-zealous move by one of his rivals.

Arriving in Dorset to find an entry well down on expectations, the Ultimate Motorsport team was faced with the prospect of five heats and two finals on one set of tyres as all 16 runners in the MiniMax class would now have to contest each qualifying race in order to determine the grid for the Pre-Final.

Parry’s preparations for the weekend saw him run well in practice, but suffer from electrical problems which again reared their head at the start of the first heat on Saturday. Pitting at the end of the warm-up lap and not being able to return, Ultimate team manager Piers Sexton took the strategic decision to keep Parry out of the remaining four races in order to preserve his tyres for the Pre-Final and Final, figuring that the 14-year old would ‘only’ be 16th on the grid for the former and able to use both his fresh rubber and noted overtaking ability to make rapid progress through the field.

The decision proved to be the talk of the paddock, with Parry the only driver to consider the possibility of missing races - and run the risk of the forecast wet weather ruining the strategy altogether. The gameplan appeared to work almost immediately, however, as an excellent getaway in the Pre-Final saw him go from the outside of row eight to tenth by the first turn.

Progress was interrupted when a grassy moment at the chicane dropped the Ultimate kart back to the rear of the field but, knowing that it was imperative for him to gain as many places as possible during the 15 laps, Parry pressed on and his perseverance was rewarded as he scythed through the lower half of the pack to regain tenth by the chequered flag.

Although the team had hoped that the charge may have netted a third or fourth row start for the 20-lap main event, it remained confident that its strategy would pay off, with Parry able to make up the ground on those at the front of the grid early in the race.

Although the Bury St Edmunds youngster managed to gain a handful of places in the opening few laps, the first four drivers - Callum Bowyer, Louise Richardson, Jordan King and Steven Handford – had already begun to open a gap on the pack. However, with six laps down, Parry’s tyres really began to reach their optimum performance and he quickly closed the gap on the leading quartet.

With the circuit commentator reflecting the excitement within the Ultimate camp, Parry made it five contenders for the winner-takes-all title by lap ten and, when King made a mistake just after half-distance, moved into fourth. Lapping two to three tenths quicker than his rivals, he appeared favourite to come out on top, but still had the small matter of passing the three karts in front of him, and this ultimately proved his undoing.

Having passed Handford, Parry was surprised by an ambitious attempt by his rival to regain the position almost immediately. The two karts made heavy contact, with Handford riding over the top of the Ultimate machine, breaking its steering wheel and column, as well as both track rods, sidelining Parry and ending his ‘O’ Plate dreams.

Although realising that he was fortunate to have avoided injury in the accident, the 14-year was naturally frustrated not to have been able to carry Sexton’s strategy through to its conclusion.

“It’s particularly disappointing for things to work out this way,” Parry sighed, “I wasn’t sure about the team’s plan initially, as I really wanted to race in the heats, but I have to give credit to Piers because you could see how fast we were in the Pre-Final and, until the accident, the Final as well.

“Perhaps I could have taken more time to try and get past the last few drivers, but I’ll learn from this. I really thought we could win here this weekend.”

Parry now faces something of a race against time to be ready for the next round of the Super1 series at Rowrah, where he also raced through the field in an early round of the BRDC Stars of Tomorrow championship, in ten days’ time. The Ultimate team, however, expects to have the youngster back on track, and in front-running form, as he begins to formulate his plans for 2009.

While he has a year remaining in his eligibility for MiniMax, and perceived wisdom suggests that his best chance of success will come if he remains in the class, the ambitious Parry will test both Junior Max and KF3 machinery in the coming weeks, and is expected to contest the forthcoming London Cup meeting in the former as a ‘no pressure’ taster.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.