Formula Kart Stars champion Matthew Parry got his first taste of single-seater racing when he drove a Formula Ford Van Diemen at Silverstone during a taster session for the new-for-2010 Junior series.

Having claimed one of the two UK-based Junior Rotax titles, and finished second in the other, in 2009, the 15-year old is looking at a future in car racing, and jumped at the chance to try one of the cars laid on by FFord series director Ken Bowes’ organisation.

First, however, Parry had to get used to driving with a clutch, using a supercharged Lotus Exige provided by Silverstone Motorsport Academy under the guidance of an experience instructor, before spending the afternoon adapting further once he was allowed out in the Van Diemen.

With the British weather doing its best to provide tricky driving conditions, Parry literally found himself ‘in at the deep end’ as he completed his first laps in the alien environment of an open-wheel cockpit, but acquitted himself well, despite having to adapt further to a right-hand gearshift – the Lotus had had the more traditional left-hand shift – and a clutch which operated more like a switch with its harsh ‘on-off’ nature.

The youngster, who finished as runner-up in the Super 1 kart series to add to his Stars title, also had to learn to ‘heel and toe’ as he adapted to the three-pedal set-up, but drove sensibly, and without error, as he transferred his smooth karting style to the bigger machine.

“The Formula Ford was very different to what I have been used to,” Parry admitted, “but I think I managed to adjust quickly and really enjoyed the day. There was a lot to learn, and having the chance to get used to everything in the Lotus really helped, but driving the Van Diemen was definitely the highlight of the day.”

The Bury St Edmunds native is now planning to complete a second test in the car before deciding his plans for next season, with both another year of karting or graduation to single-seaters under consideration.

“It was good to get experience of what lies beyond karting, even if we may not decide to step up until 2011,” Parry admitted, “There are so many possible routes into car racing, and it will be interesting to compare the options, but I also have some interesting opportunities in karting, so it will be an important decision when we have to make it.”

The youngster will put a seal on a hectic 2009 campaign when he takes part in the Rotax World Finals at Sharm El-Sheikh’s Ghibli Raceway early next month, having qualified as rookie of the year in the four-round RGMMC Euro Challenge this summer. Running on standard Maranello equipment, he will face drivers from all over the globe as he attempts to win a second title in the event’s tenth anniversary edition.

Immediately prior to flying out to Egypt, however, Parry will make an appearance at the prestigious Autosport Awards in London, a reward for his Formula Kart Stars success, where he can expect to rub shoulders with former stars of karting, such as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, who have gone on to achieve the highest accolade in motorsport.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.