MATT FEELS THE HEAT ON SENIOR ROTAX DEBUT


British kart ace Matthew Parry made the step up to the Senior Rotax class at round three of the RGMMC Euro Challenge at Speedworld in Austria, and emerged with credit after battling extreme temperatures throughout the weekend.

Having completed his GCSE examinations, the 15-year old - currently leading the Super 1 Series Junior Rotax standings in the UK – decided that it would be beneficial to sample competition in the senior ranks, even though his single-seater ambitions may dictate against making the move full-time next season, but was obliged to do so on the international scene in order to preserve his junior status – and title challenge – at home.

That meant that, apart from having to deal with the step up in power, he also had to contend with the stronger field and technical differences of the Euro Challenge, including an introduction to front brakes and Mojo tyres, neither of which he had run with before. On top of that, the minimum weight requirement required Parry to carry an additional 16kg, adding another variable to the Paul Carr Racing team’s set-up conundrum.

Despite temperatures rising high enough to risk cancellation of Wednesday’s practice sessions – CIK rules mandate that, should track temperatures reach 42°C, action should be suspended – the Welsh-born youngster showed throughout the three preparation days that he was capable of running with the leading contenders, causing more than a few of his older rivals to cast an anxious glance in the direction of the ‘whippersnapper’ infiltrating their ranks.

When it came to qualifying, however, the regulars would have been relieved to see Parry languishing much further down the timesheets, the result of a misaligned sprocket that left him outside the top 40 and bitterly disappointed as it meant that he would have to start towards the back of the field in each of his heats.

Despite the setback, though, Parry refused to be daunted and, drawing on the experience gained from finishing fourth overall – and leading rookie - in last year’s European Junior Rotax competition, produced sufficiently strong results to ensure that he avoided the repecharge and qualified directly for the finals. Although lining up in 26th place for the Pre-Final was still below his own personal expectations, it was a position accepted by his team as representative of a junior making his maiden senior appearance in an arena where it usually takes a handful of outings to acclimatise in national competition, let alone among the higher standards found overseas.

Parry’s progress continued in the Pre-Final, as he moved up to 15th by the chequered flag, and secured a place on row eight for the main event, which would bring the curtain down on a long weekend.

Despite its position on the timetable, the Final, contested over 15 minutes plus one lap, was also dominated by baking temperatures, but Parry made a good start to immediately gain positions. Although he ran as high as ninth at one point, however, the competitive field continued to change throughout, and the Briton eventually found himself shuffled back to his original 15th position by the finish.

“I’m disappointed that I couldn’t do better than 15th,” Parry admitted, “but those around me insist that it was a good result, especially given the conditions and my lack of experience, both in Senior Rotax and with the front brakes and different tyres.

“I’m confident that we could get a better result if we returned to the Euro Challenge and I am considering whether to do round four at Genk, although my main focus remains the Super 1 Series at home and winning the title there.”

Team boss Paul Carr shared Parry’s belief that better results would be possible with more track time in the championship.

“Our little Junior Rotax protégé did fantastically well considering the different circumstances,” he claimed, “Despite carrying dead weight and racing with front brakes and the Mojo tyres for the first time, his performance was tremendous.

“I am sure that Matt could have been five or six places better off this weekend had he had a stronger engine and, if he continued in the Euro Challenge, I am sure that he would be running in the top three and contending for podium finishes.”

Rounding out a busy month, Parry will now resume his pursuit of the Super 1 Junior Rotax title at Larkhall in Scotland this weekend [24-25 July]

 

Article created by Craig Llewellyn.