There was a distinct feeling of déjà vu in the Czech Republic for Fortec Motorsport ace and Caterham development driver Matt Parry.
For the second year running the Bury St Edmunds-based driver’s championship challenge hit problems at the penultimate round.
The scoreless Formula Renault Northern European Cup triple-header came a year to the weekend after his drive towards the 2012 InterSteps title was briefly halted at Rockingham Motor Speedway.
Parry recovered to take the crown with a race to spare at the season finale and, despite three strokes of bad luck at the Autodrom Most, he carries a significant 75-point advantage into the final round of the year, at Zandvoort in October.
A solid day of testing saw Parry top the first session of the weekend ahead of a 35-car field that included a large number of Formula Renault Eurocup frontrunners, and an excellent qualifying performance left him second behind Eurocup points leader Oliver Rowland.
“After practice, I was pleased with my qualifying time,” Parry said. “Obviously, I was aiming for pole position as I’d already proved competitive against the Eurocup boys at both Hockenheim and the Nurburgring, but Rowland pipped me by just over a 10th”
In the first race Parry held on to third spot as the pack headed into the opening corner.
However, having avoided incident at the notorious bottleneck, he was slow on the exit of the chicane – the result of the pit-lane speed limiter getting stuck on – and was hit from behind, putting him out.
With his 121-point lead reduced by the non-finish, Sport Wales-backed Parry needed to score in race two on Sunday morning if he was to leave Most with the 90-point advantage required to secure the title.
Again the Welshman made a good getaway but, this time, having avoided contact, the stewards decided that his start was just a little too good and promptly handed down a drivethrough penalty that dropped him to the back of the field.
“Having reviewed my onboard video, I think that was a harsh decision because any forward movement was simply the result of loading the clutch, something that a lot of other drivers were doing,” said Parry.
Despite having little time to recover, Parry still made up seven places, but was left pointless once again.
Crucially, the result of race one had an impact on the grid for the third and final race on Sunday afternoon and meant he lined up 30th on the grid.
Despite being in the heart of the action heading into the first lap, Parry made short work of those around him, quickly claiming 17 positions to move himself within reach of some valuable points, only to find Lady Luck again turning against him.
This time, a puncture undid all his good work, the ensuing pit-stop relegating him to an eventual 26th position at the chequered flag.
“You couldn’t have scripted a worse weekend, but I’ve been here before.
“I know that I just have to put Most behind me and focus on Zandvoort,” Parry concluded.
“I’ve had enough bad luck to last a lifetime and things will go more smoothly in Holland.”
Round seven of the 2013 Formula Renault Northern European Cup, another triple-header event, takes place at Zandvoort in the Netherlands over the weekend of October 12-13.