Another near-perfect points haul from rounds 6-8 of the Dunlop InterSteps Championship helped move AirAsia Caterham Driver Development Programme protégé Matt Parry to the top of the championship standings for the first time in 2012.

Despite finishing on the podium at every one of the opening five rounds, Parry arrived at Brands Hatch still playing catch-up in the overall standings, but redressed that with another dominant weekend that only missed perfection when he finished second to title rival Matt Mason in the opening race. Even then, the Cardiff native had been leading early on, as he continues to exert his influence over the series.

Pre-event testing and practice had shown Parry and Mason to be well-matched in terms of lap-time, but the Fortec Motorsport driver came out on top when it counted in qualifying, acing the first session by a couple of tenths, and then repeating the blow second time around, when he proved to be 0.145secs faster than his rival. More importantly, Parry also turned in a more consistent run, with a string of 46-second laps, any of which would have been good enough to give him pole for race three.

“It was another good qualifying session,” the 18-year old admitted, “We made some improvements to the car before each outing and that allowed us to turn the tables and come out on top.”

Parry’s advantage appeared set to carry over into the opening race later that afternoon, as the green-and-gold Fortec machine streaked away from pole position top open a two-second gap in as many laps. On the third lap, however, the result of pushing so hard was a trip through the gravel at Clearways, with the ensuing delay allowing not just Mason through, but Fortec team-mate Cameron Twynham too.

Parry refused to remain in third for too long, despatching Twynham on lap six before his pursuit and a safety car wiped out three full seconds and took him right onto Mason’s tail. From there, the two pacesetters duelled over the victory, with Parry even chancing his arm around the outside at Paddock Hill Bend and the Druids hairpin, and the two cars banging wheels and taking to the grass on the run to Graham Hill Bend in a battle that should make for good viewing when the series airs on Motors TV.

Try as he might, however, Parry could not find a way around Mason’s silver machine, and the pair took the chequered flag separated by four-tenths.

“It was a silly mistake that put me in the position of having to chase the victory, but the scrap with Mason was great,” the Fortec driver enthused, “I was definitely more aggressive than I have been before, having learned lessons from the opening races at Oulton Park. Although it was frustrating not to win – as I should have – second place was definitely better than ending my race in the gravel.”

Determined not to slip up again, the rest of the weekend proved altogether more straightforward for Parry. With Sunday dawning as bright and sunny as Saturday had been, there was little to be changed on the #1 machine, and its driver made the most of another good start to pull away by a couple of tenths a lap, eventually winning by 4.8secs.

The third and final race of the weekend was a similar story, with Parry making another good getaway and not being headed for the remainder of the 19 laps as he again stretched out an early lead and added to it throughout. As in the previous two outings, he also secured the fastest lap of the race, and the valuable bonus points that went with it.

Already ahead in the overall standings as he took the chequered flag late on Sunday afternoon, Parry’s title bid received another boost when his nearest rival was penalised post-race, dropping him down the order and bringing a grid penalty for the next round, at Snetterton, in July.

“It feels good to get back to winning ways after Saturday’s mistake,” the Welshman noted, “and I have to thank Fortec Motorsport for giving me a fantastic car this weekend. With a nine-week break until the next round, I hope to be able to get out and test to make sure that we can remain in this position, and bring more silverware for the AirAsia Caterham Driver Development Programme, whose support is so valuable to me.”

The next three rounds of the Dunlop InterSteps Championship take place at the remodelled Snetterton circuit over the weekend of 14-15 August.


Article created by Craig Llewellyn.