After a frustrating weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, Matt Parry could be forgiven for thinking that his luck had stayed at home instead of accompanying him to the Formula Ford Eurocup double-header in Belgium, but Zolder provided a welcome morale boost for the young Welshman.

Just a week after tackling the current Belgian Grand Prix venue, Parry and the Fluid Motorsport Developments team found themselves at a former host for the third instalment of the new-for-2011 Eurocup, and a second outing in the reworked Van Diemen LA11. Despite promising performance from the car at Spa, Parry had managed a solitary sixth place before his fortune took a turn for the worse, and he approached the Zolder weekend with some degree of trepidation at testing had not seen him lapping on the pace of his usual rivals.

The 17-year old need not have worried, however, for practice showed him to be up to speed, mixing it in the top five by the end of the day. This season’s Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain has seen six drivers emerge at the front of the field, and the same sextet dominated both practice and qualifying for the two-race meeting, with Parry gridding sixth for the opening race and fifth for the second, and only a handful of tenths off the inside of row two.

Just as Parry’s form appeared ready to carry him to a good result, however, Lady Luck deserted him, and a poor getaway to Saturday’s opening race saw the Fluid machine – carrying #55 for the weekend – swamped by a fair proportion of the sizeable 25-car pack. That was particularly frustrating on a circuit where overtaking is known to be difficult, and Parry found himself in the midst of a multi-car battle for the lower reaches of the top ten.

Running as high as ninth and as low as twelfth on successive laps, the Sport Wales-backed driver finally appeared destined for a top ten result when a gearbox problem saw him coasting on the final lap of the race. The problem was enough to prevent Parry from seeing the chequered flag, and he was eventually classified in 19th place, a lap down.

“Losing the gearbox was disappointing because, even though we weren’t on course for a great result, the car was going well,” Parry sighed, “Still, we got further than we did on occasion at Spa, and every lap is vital experience, both for me and, with the new car, for the team as well.”

Starting from fifth in race two, the teenager made a better getaway and was immediately able to run with the leading group. He was not alone, however, and, in typical Formula Ford style, came under pressure from behind even as he was trying to force those ahead into an error. Despite dropping to eighth on lap two, he continued to battle, quickly regaining the lost positions and going on to challenge for more, eventually overhauling two of the local drivers to reclaim fifth place a couple of laps from home.

“That’s better!” Parry admitted, “Even though this is, in effect, a one-off event, without the pressure of championship points, it was still important to approach it like any other meeting. The racing was no different, with some close battles, and it was only towards the end that I was able to make a break. Fifth place is an encouraging finish to the weekend, and we can look forward to Zandvoort next month with renewed confidence.”

The fourth and final Eurocup meeting of the season takes place at the former home of the Dutch Grand Prix over 12-14 August, supporting the prestigious F3 Masters event, and will carry greater importance for Parry and Fluid as each of the three races also count towards the British championship standings.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.