Bury St Edmunds’ Matt Parry underlined his status as one of motorsport’s stars of the future by claiming pole at his first ever street circuit race.
He could have also added the prestigious Pau Grand Prix to his résumé had it not been for an incident-filled main event.
The 19-year-old topped Sunday’s qualifying and won the subsequent qualifying race to start first for Monday’s final, but he could only manage fifth after a collision with Fortec teammate Jake Dennis relegated him to the back of the field and left him to fight his way through.
“The incident with my teammate was regrettable as we could both have challenged for the win today, but I’ll learn from what happened and use that going forward,” said Parry, who lives in Bury. “I’d like to thank Fortec for giving me the opportunity to race at Pau, which is a fantastic circuit in the mould of Monaco.”
The 72nd running of the Pau classic — previously a staple on F3000, F2 and World Touring Car calendars — featured the Formula Renault class as its star attraction for 2013, giving Parry another chance to pit his wits against more-experienced competitors on the sort of circuit that would set individuals a class apart from their rivals.
After a wet practice on Saturday, Parry found extra time in Sunday’s qualifying to put his car on pole position.
“Racing on a street circuit was a real shock to the system, as there is no room for error,” said Parry. “To go out there for the first time in wet conditions was so challenging.”
Despite the road surface still showing signs of earlier rain, the pole-sitter made the most of the drier line on his side of the circuit to vault into an immediate lead in race one.
Parry pulled away from his pursuers at a steady pace, eventually taking the chequered flag by more seven seconds to put himself on pole for Monday’s final.
The Caterham Racing Academy protégé got off the line first in the final, but an incident further down the field meant the safety car was called out.
When it returned to the pits, Dennis made a move on Parry, only for the teammates to collide, which caused the red flag to be issued and Parry to be relegated to the back of the field for the restart.
With it all to do to salvage a podium finish from his otherwise stellar weekend, the Welshman made short work of the cars immediately ahead of him to move comfortably into the top 10, eventually taking fifth overall.
Northern European Cup leader Parry returns to championship action at Silverstone next weekend.