SIXTH PLACE SALVAGES FRUSTRATING OULTON PARK WEEKEND



Matthew Parry recorded the best result of his short Formula Ford career with sixth place in round two at Oulton Park, but that was the only high point in a weekend of misfortune for the single-seater rookie.

After a solid start to the season at Silverstone, Parry and the Fluid Motorsport Developments team had just two weeks to wait for their next outing, with a triple-header at the picturesque Oulton Park circuit in support of the prestigious British F3 and GT championships, and had high hopes of moving up the grid after a strong performance in the pre-race test.

Things, however, started to go awry in Saturday’s qualifying when, with sector times suggesting a top three start, the red flags appeared to halt proceedings following an accident for one of Parry’s rivals. With just three minutes remaining in the session once it restarted, there was time for only two flying laps, and the Welsh youngster showed his inexperience by getting caught up in traffic as he attempted to repeat his earlier performance.

“In retrospect, I should probably have backed off and sacrificed the first lap in favour of a clear run at the second,” Parry conceded after being left with starts of tenth, ninth and seventh for the weekend’s three races, “Knowing that I could have been further up the grid had it not been for the red flag is disappointing, but at least we’ve shown that the speed is there in the Fluid Van Diemen.”

Starting so deep in the pack was always likely to cause problems for the 17-year old, who started the season as part of the AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program, and his worst fears came to pass at the opening corner as contact from behind sent him hard into the Old Hall tyre barrier.

With substantial damage to the blue-and-white #5 machine, there was no way Parry could carry on, but the saving grace was that he was unhurt despite the impact, and the Fluid team had longer than usual to repair the car with no further racing until Easter Monday.

Their luck refused to change, however, and, just as Parry began to make inroads towards the front six in race two, he found himself without fourth gear and with no option but to retire.

Once more, the Fluid team had time to effect repairs, with the third and final race of the weekend not taking place until 5pm, and Parry was able to look forward to his best grid position of the meeting, with a spot on the inside of row four. His lack of experience showed again as he got too much wheelspin off the line but, despite dropping a handful of places, it was clear that the Fluid driver had the pace to move back up the order and was back into seventh by the end of the lap.

Gaining another position on lap four, Parry was into the top six on merit and, unlike at Silverstone, had not benefited from others’ misfortune. The gap to fifth place still needed to be bridged, but the return of the red flag, which ended the race prematurely, meant that there would be no further improvement. Sixth place still represented Parry’s best result of the season, however, and finally brought some smiles to the Fluid camp.

“It was definitely a nice finish to a frustrating weekend,” the youngster confirmed, “I have to say thank-you to the team for all their hard work over the past few days, but hopefully this result, and the times I was able to put in over the weekend, shows that we are a genuine top six contender.

“There was little I could do about either of the DNFs, but it was good to bounce back with a strong showing in race three. We have a few weeks until the next round, but I already can’t wait to get out there and build on this result.”

The Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain has a three-week break before returning to action at Snetterton over the weekend of 14-15 May, again in support of the British F3 and GT series.

 

Article created by Craig Llewellyn.