Formula Ford rookie Matthew Parry achieved his aim of recording top ten finishes on his first weekend of Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain action at Silverstone – and underlined the potential for more as the season wears on.

The 17-year old AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program member, making his single-seater debut in Fluid Motorsport Developments’ Van Diemen LA10, belied his lack of experience by clocking the ninth-fastest time in qualifying on Saturday morning. However, there was better to come as it transpired that his second- and third-best laps were good enough for sixth on the grid in races two and three, ahead of several more seasoned rivals, and consistently within half a second of the pole time.

“Our pace was definitely encouraging,” Parry confirmed, “Our preparations for the season were somewhat limited because of the weather, so it was good to be as close to the pace as we were, even if we have some way to go to complete our learning curve. It was just a shame that I made a small mistake on what proved to be my best lap, as I reckon I could have been in the top five for race one.”

Starting from the middle of the pack for his Formula Ford debut was always going to be an eye-opener for Parry, but the youngster used all his championship-winning karting experience to avoid incident in the first few corners. Not having made a standing start in competition showed, however, and he lost a handful of places on the opening lap, unfortunately putting himself in the wrong place at the wrong time as the field entered Brooklands towards the end of the lap.

Contact from behind pitched the #5 Van Diemen into a spin, and dropped Parry to the tail of the field, but the Cardiff native put his head down and not only closed a 15+ second gap, but began to pick up places in the course of the 18-minute race. Although the leaders remained out of reach, the Fluid entry reached 14th by the time the chequered flag fell,

Sunday dawned similarly bright and sunny and, with two third row starts ahead, the mood in the Fluid camp was positive. Although he made a better getaway in race two, however, Parry suffered a brief gearbox glitch on the opening lap, dropping him from sixth to 15th. Despite quickly picking off David Moore, the gap to the group ahead took time to bridge, and Parry was happy to see the safety car bring him back into contention.

Given the chance to race, he picked up several more places to be sitting eighth going into the final few laps, but a clash while defending his position from America’s Neil Alberico saw the #5 car briefly up on two wheels, and back outside the top ten. Undaunted, Parry quickly regained his composure and gained a place on each of the final two laps to come home in ninth position.

With work needed on the car before the final race of the day, team and driver decided to make some set-up changes to the Van Diemen in the hope that Parry could continue to show the sort of pace that had him lapping on a par with much of the field in the earlier rounds. Unfortunately, despite another solid start, the youngster found that too much oversteer had been dialled into his mount, costing him positions in the early stages.

Although he crossed the line fifth at the end of lap one, Parry was forced back as far as twelfth, where he ran through the middle of the race, before mounting another comeback. Up to ninth with a few laps to run, the teenager got the best of Alberico on the final tour of the 1.6-mile National circuit to claim eighth place and his best result of the meeting.

“Before the weekend, I said that I would look at top ten results as a success,” Parry admitted, “This year’s field is unusual in that there are a number of drivers in their second, third or even fourth year of Formula Ford, so there is a lot of experience out there. It would have been useful to have another Van Diemen out there to compare myself with, but the team pulled together well.

“It was unfortunate that I got spun around so early in race one, as we could definitely have had a better result, but the problems in race two were largely down to my inexperience, and I can learn from them. In the end, eighth and ninth places were the targets we had set ourselves, even if we’re a little disappointed not to have got more from the weekend.”

The Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain has a brief two-week break before returning to action at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend, where it supports the British F3 and GT series.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.