Matt Parry claimed his first UK national single-seater title by finishing on the podium in every race of the final Dunlop InterSteps Championship triple-header at Croft.The AirAsia Caterham Driver Development Programme protégé headed to north Yorkshire with a 52-point lead over his nearest rival, having seen a chance to wrap up the title at the penultimate round dented by his first DNFs of the year. Although he knew that he just had to perform to his usual high standards to secure the crown, with just an hour of testing prior to the race weekend, Parry would begin on the back foot, and it showed as he continued to chase the right set-up on his Fortec-run Mygale throughout qualifying.
“An hour of testing late in the day was not enough to adapt to a fast and technical circuit like Croft,” admitted Parry, who had not raced at the northern venue prior to the InterSteps weekend, “We were all in the same boat, but it meant that we went into qualifying ‘blind’ and still trying to nail the right balance.”
The result was a series of grid positions slightly off his regular front row slot, but the Bury St Edmunds resident wasted little time in showing his mettle, taking the still unsorted car from fifth to third in less than a lap when race one got underway later that afternoon. From there, he tracked the top two throughout the remainder of the race to add important points to his tally and limit the inroads that could be made by his main rival.
With the remaining races taking place the following day, there was always a chance that the fickle British weather and, true enough, Sunday dawned wet. That, however, was always likely to play into Parry’s hands, the youngster having earned a reputation as a ‘rainmeister’ during his karting career. Starting race two from third on the grid, the 18-year old moved quickly into second place, demoting his remaining title rival and immediately putting pressure on the leader. Over the next five laps, the green-and-gold #1 machine edged closer to top spot, before the pressure told and a mistake from the driver ahead allowed Parry to seize a lead he was not to lose. The victory was Parry’s 13th of the year, adding to his record points haul and taking it beyond the reach of his rivals.
With the title in his pocket, race three was a more relaxed affair, with team and driver able to enjoy the moment of celebration. Parry again cut through the field to snatch an opening lap lead from fifth on the grid, before a combination of the conditions, a couple of safety car interruptions and wearing tread on his tyres contrived to drop him back to third at the chequered flag.
“We knew, coming into the weekend, that we just needed to keep our heads and rack up the points we needed to make sure of the title,” Parry commented, “Three podium finishes were good enough, and helped maintain our record of being in the top three in every race we finished – but it was still nice to add another victory!
The final race showed just how competitive the InterSteps series has been in 2012, and it’s been fun racing against the likes of Matt Mason and my team-mates at Fortec, who have improved throughout the year. I am delighted to have taken the title, my first since graduating from karts, and hope that it will lead on to bigger and better things.”
Parry’s next step will be to begin testing in Fortec’s Formula Renault chassis, with the aim of remaining with the team and contesting one of the European championships in 2013.
“I’ve enjoyed an excellent rapport with Fortec this season, and it seems only right to move forward with the team next year,” the youngster confirmed, “I’d also like to thank AirAsia and Caterham for their support, and hope that we can continue those relationships through 2013. Winning the InterSteps title has given me even more belief that I can be successful, and I can’t wait to get started on next season.”