Although his learning curve continues upwards, Matthew Parry took another major step in his development as a single-seater racer at the Snetterton round of the Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain.

While the Fluid Motorsport Developments Van Diemen may have been expected to go well on the original version of the Norfolk circuit it calls home, the revised ‘300’ layout posed new questions of the entire field, and Parry was able to show the sort of pace that could have netted a maiden podium finish had luck gone his way. Instead, the 17-year old series rookie claimed another best-ever finish as he showed the sort of overtaking ability that marked him out as one to watch in karting.

Three weeks after a difficult meeting at Oulton Park, Parry again qualified comfortably inside the top ten, lining up seventh, sixth and seventh for the three races on the F3/GT support card, and showed that the lessons he had learned from rounds one and two were being applied as he diced for position on each outing.

Gaining a position by the end of lap one in the opening encounter, the Welsh driver soon found himself in a spirited battle with Finn Antti Buri, with the pair swapping places on a couple of occasions. However, just as Parry appeared to have got the upper hand and moved into fifth place, his progress was cut short by a blown engine, the result of a stone being thrown up – and into his radiator – in the heat of his scrap with the Mygale driver.

After two DNFs at Oulton Park, not finishing was a blow for both Parry and Fluid, but the former karting champion’s pace had been an encouragement for all in the camp, especially with a row three start to follow in race two. Again, he did not disappoint at the start, gaining a couple of positions on the opening lap and resisting early pressure from Buri and Australia’s Nick McBride.

In typical Formula Ford fashion, each driver enjoyed time in front of battle, but Parry was always quick to return to the head of the queue, passing both his more experienced rivals in confident fashion at the end of the main straight. Just as he appeared to be on course for fourth place, however, a brief lapse in concentration saw the Briton miss a gear on the fast approach to the tight Murrays, and the resulting wide line allowed the chasing Dan de Zille to snatch the position away. Parry kept his foot down during his ‘moment’ and was still able to finish a season’s best fifth.

“I admit that, with a lap to go, I was already thinking about the finish, and that resulted in my concentration slipping,” Parry conceded, “It’s frustrating to know that, without the mistake, we could have finished fourth, but it’s another valuable lesson to be learned!”

The positives from race two were carried into the final event of the weekend and, although unable to gain any places at the start, Parry was soon on the move again. Benefitting from a couple of the frontrunners tangling and promoting him to fifth, the youngster then disposed of both Jake Cook and Buri to move into a genuine podium position.

Again, he was able to pull away from the pack behind and, despite ongoing pressure from Buri, closed rapidly on second-placed McBride. Just as he appeared poised to challenge the Australian, however, Parry out-braked himself at the Esses and, as #5 Van Diemen spun harmlessly across the grass, dropped back to eighth place. To underline his misfortune, the Briton was then greeted by the safety car as he entered the start-finish straight, meaning that he had been just three corners away from a maiden podium……

“It was another case of what might have been,” Parry sighed, “but it is encouraging to see that we are now able to race for the podium. We have been consistently quick here this weekend and, with a little luck and greater experience, might have been celebrating more than a useful handful of points. It bodes well for the rest of the season though”

“Matt did very well this weekend, and people have now begun to realise that he is a genuine top 3-4 runner,” Fluid team boss Lindsay Allen commented, “Only a couple of drivers are now consistently faster than he is, but Matt will learn from his mistakes and only get more confident. We need to work hard on qualifying ahead of Brands Hatch, where it is often hard to overtake, but things are looking good.”

The Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain now has a five-week break before returning to action on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit over the weekend of 18-19 June, where the meeting will also double up as round one of the Formula Ford Eurocup.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.