A second near-perfect weekend in the space of a month has pushed Matt Parry one step closer to landing his first major single-seater title as he dominated Dunlop InterSteps Championship proceedings at Pembrey in South Wales.Just three weeks after netting 102 points from a possible 103 at Snetterton, Cardiff-born Parry repeated the feat on a weekend when British sporting talent was displaying its prowess at Olympic venues across the country. While the Pembrey circuit could not claim to match the splendour of the Olympic stadium or atmosphere of Eton Dorney or the velodrome, the Fortec Motorsport driver produced his own golden performance by claiming pole position for each of the weekend’s three races, which he duly won to surpass Jake Dennis’ previous series record, and adding a brace of fastest laps for good measure. Missing out on the best lap in race one was the only blot on Parry’s weekend, taking with it the final point needed for perfection.
The success story would not have been predicted during the two dedicated test days that preceded the weekend, as Parry did not feature at the head of the timesheets while both he and the Fortec team learned their way around Pembrey with the InterSteps Series’ Mygale FB02. Although both team and driver had visited the Welsh circuit before, neither had done so with the French chassis, and had to get to grips with what appeared to be a high degree of tyre wear.
Although his practice performance left room for improvement, Parry was back on form from the start of qualifying, setting pole position despite limiting himself to just the bare necessity when it came to flying laps in order to give himself as much tyre life as possible come the races.
With three 21-lap races on the slate, the ability to preserve rubber would be key, but Parry was not about to hang about, converting his front row grid slot into an immediate lead of more than a second. Over the first half of the race, the margin grew to almost two seconds before the Welshman eased off in the closing stages, allowing his main championship rival to be flattered by a six-tenths deficit at the chequered flag.
The victory, however, still cast doubt in Parry’s mind, the AirAsia Caterham Driver Development Programme protégé concerned that he may not be able to keep the field at bay should the following races remain dry throughout. Despite a forecast that suggested a wet weekend, neither InterSteps race would be affected by rain, but Parry’s worries also proved unfounded.
Although he got a decent start to race two on Sunday morning, Parry was unable to shake his closest opposition, and the interruption by not one, but two safety car periods kept the points leader on his toes. The 18-year old showed his growing experience and professionalism, however, by varying – and then nailing – both subsequent restarts to put a valuable cushion between himself and second place, ensuring that he again crossed the line in the lead.
Race three at the end of the programme was altogether more straightforward, as a good getaway from the standing start allowed Parry to put the green-and-gold Fortec machine into a lead it would not lose, particularly with any likely opposition being tied up in a battle for second place. The advantage grew with every circuit and, despite not having to push, Parry still managed to grab the extra point for fastest lap as he headed a Fortec 1-2-3 across the line.
The Pembrey performance came just one week after Parry bolstered his points lead in a triple-header at Thruxton, where he defied mixed conditions at Britain’s fastest circuit to emerge with another two wins. His current 540-point total, compiled with two rounds still to run, is already higher than 2011 champion Dennis amassed, and is 123 clear of second-placed Matt Mason with just 206 up for grabs.
Parry’s path towards the Dunlop InterSteps Championship title continues on the road course at the UK’s only oval circuit, Rockingham Motor Speedway, over 1-2 September.