British number one Matthew Parry has vowed to take everything he can from a frustrating end to his karting career and use it to his advantage as he makes the move to Formula Ford in 2011 with Fluid Motorsport Developments and Van Diemen as part of a driver development programme run by a team in a higher formula.

Having confirmed his reputation as one of Britain’s leading kart racers by claiming a second national title in two years, the 16-year old returned to the international stage determined to go one better than he had managed in the 2009 Rotax World Finals, where he finished as runner-up in the Junior Rotax class. However, he was to be denied by a combination of poor luck and the need to play catch-up with drivers benefiting from a more comprehensive preparatory schedule.

With the build-up to the finals, staged at the Italian La Conca circuit, coinciding with his starting college and being accepted for the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence at Loughborough, Parry was unable to focus solely on his karting commitments, and therefore started the week-long event giving ground to those who had been able to test the single-spec Sodikart and/or race at the host venue.

The gap was accentuated in the run-up to qualifying and, despite improving throughout the handful of pre-event practice sessions, the Welsh-born youngster – along with most of his British team-mates – remained well adrift of more experienced rivals when the all-important times were posted. A lowly 27th might have ranked as the best of the under-prepared Britons, but was also Parry’s worst-ever qualifying position, and left him right in the heart of the ‘crash zone’ at the start of each of his three heats.

Lining up on row seven was already an alien concept for the ultra-successful Paul Carr Racing driver, and the fact that he carried the mantle of British number one only served to make the #59 kart more of a target for ambitious rivals looking for a notable scalp for their efforts. Despite being disappointed with his position, however, Parry accepted that he had a tough weekend ahead - and his task wasn’t made any easier when he was taken out at the opening corner of heat one on Friday morning.

Winding up on top of another kart, Parry had to climb out of his machine before being able to resume, and consequently finished an unrepresentative 29th. His luck refused to change later in the day too, as he was again the victim of an opening lap incident. Despite a spin that left him off the road, however, the Briton battled back and at least managed to show the rest of the field what he might be capable of by posting the fastest lap of the race before crossing the line in 15th position.

Knowing that heat three would be crucial to his chances of avoiding the repecharge and qualifying directly to the final, Parry battled his way to a top ten result, but his previous misfortunes continued to outweigh the positives and he duly found himself in the last-chance race for the first time in his career.

“I was absolutely devastated to come all this way and find myself in the repecharge, but I will just have to get on with it,” was his phlegmatic response, “Many other drivers have come from the back of the field and won races, so I knew that I had to give it a go.”

A good start from fourth on the grid boded well for Parry’s chances of making it through to the main event, but again his luck refused to hold and, just as he positioned himself to challenge for the lead, the two drivers ahead of him contrived to collide, leaving the Briton with nowhere to go. The ensuing accident left Parry’s kart beyond repair, with damage to both track rods, the steering column and bodywork, while one tyre had been forced completely off the rim, leaving him a spectator for the rest of the weekend. Ironically, as if to rub salt into the Briton’s wounds as his karting career came to an end on the lowest of low notes, one of the drivers who had lined up behind him in the last chance race went on to win the World title outright…..

“It just goes to show that this can happen to anyone, no matter how good your year has been,” Parry sighed, “I was obviously a big target having come here as British number one, but the experience can only serve to make me a better driver. It’s hard to end my karting career on such a low note, but I will take it on the chin and use everything I have learned from a character-building weekend in the next stage of my career, in Formula Ford.”

Having already sampled both FFord and FRenault this season, the teenager looks set to move into the former in 2011, having already had fruitful test outings with Van Diemen works team Fluid Motorsport Developments. Lindsay Allen’s squad has been selected as the first step in a prominent new young driver development programme, and believes that Parry is the talent to help it build on this season’s FFord Festival triumph and become a regular winner in the British Championship.

“We are refocusing on results after changes in management at both Fluid and Van Diemen, and welcome the opportunity to have a driver of Matt’s quality as a benchmark in our bid to return to winning ways,” Allen commented, “The FFord Festival showed what can be achieved, but is only the start of what we expect next season.”

Parry will continue his testing programme at both Oulton Park and Rockingham in the coming weeks.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.