MATT MAKES THE PODIUM AT SILVERSTONE!
Matt Parry’s increasingly rapid rise through the GP3 ranks continued apace at his home event at the weekend, as Matt from Cardiff claimed his first series podium in only his fifth outing with the Koiranen GP team.
After coming close to opening his points account on debut in Barcelona, Parry racked up a seventh-place finish last time out in Austria, but arrived at Silverstone confident that both he and the team knew how to approach the former airfield circuit. The Welshman’s last outing on the hallowed tarmac had come at the wheel of an F1 McLaren at the end of 2014, while Koiranen won at the British Grand Prix meeting twelve months ago, putting Parry’s current team-mate, and GP3 veteran, Jimmy Eriksson on the top step.
Confident that he could quickly home in on the best set-up, Parry produced the fourth-fastest time, setting himself up for a strong run in Saturday’s early morning qualifying session. Unfortunately, the combination of overnight rain and other classes sharing the circuit over the weekend meant that the track characteristics changed completely by time the GP3 boys were back in action but, despite a belated start to his session, Parry was soon back in the groove, posting successive times good enough for second place before eventually having to settle for fourth on the grid.
“It was good to be fourth fastest in practice, but I was still nine-tenths off the best time,” Parry commented, “It’s so easy to lose tenths here and there around a long lap like Silverstone, so we went through the data to see where I was missing out and, after scrubbing in a set of tyres early in qualifying, I put in a series of laps good enough to keep myself in the top four, but with a much reduced two-tenths margin to the pole time.”
With Pirelli providing its hardest tyre for the weekend, making the rubber last in the 40-minute Saturday evening race would not be as big a problem as in earlier rounds, and Parry put himself straight into a position to challenge for the podium by passing fellow second row starter Alex Palou as the lights went out. As the top three began to break away from the group behind, Parry began to put pressure on second-placed Emil Bernstorff but, having been denied a chance to pass, opted to concentrate on preserving his tyre through the middle of the race. Comfortably clear of the chasing pack, the Sport Wales ambassador was able to watch with interest as the top two battle over first place before joining them on the podium.
“I made a good start and was straight into third place as Palou was slow away,” Parry confirmed, “I tried to push Bernstorff into a mistake early on before stabilising my pace midway through the race to ensure there would be no problems with the tyres in the closing stages. I then watched with interest as the top two came close to running into each other – which would have been the perfect finish – but I was delighted with third place, especially after a tough couple of rounds in Spain and Austria.” (Photo Matt shows his Welsh roots by drinking the champers. not just spraying it)
Third in race one translates to sixth on the grid for race two and, again, an aggressive Parry was able to make up places early on. Passing race one winner Marvin Kirchhofer, championship leader Luca Ghiotto and Bernstorff in the space of a couple of laps promoted the 21-year old into fifth place, where he once again found himself running in tandem with Koiranen team-mate Eriksson.
“I thought I had made a good start, but it seems others made even better ones,” Parry smiled, “Despite dropping back briefly, however, I was still able to pass cars comfortably, and I was able to retake Ghiotto at Luffield before going to the inside of Kirchhofer at the Loop next time around. Bernstoff made it easier for me by running off the road while trying to pass my team-mate, so I was quickly up to fifth. Jimmy was tougher to pass, but I know that I had the pace to challenge for another podium had I been able to get by him. I took a couple of looks into Copse, but it’s hard to pass there and I couldn’t try anything too risky. Nevertheless, fifth place meant more solid points and a move up the championship table. I said after Austria that I just needed a clean weekend to show what I could do, so it has been very positive – and very satisfying.”
Round four of the 2015 GP3 Series season takes place at the Hungaroring in Budapest over the weekend of 24-26 July, but there will be several chances to relive Parry’s Silverstone performance, with his podium run in race one being re-run on Sky Sports F1 on Tuesday 7 July at 7.30pm and Sunday 11 July at 9.00am. Race two re-airs on Wednesday 8 July at 5.00pm and Sunday 11th July at 10.00am.