Formula Ford graduate Matthew Parry has been invited to join the AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program ahead of his first season of car racing.
The 17-year old will be the only British driver on the scheme, set up by the Anglo/Malaysian Formula 1 squad Team Lotus in a bid to bring on young talent from the initial rungs of the motor racing ladder, the latest phase of which was announced in Malaysia on Saturday [2 April].
Parry, a multiple kart racing champion, makes his single-seater debut in the Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain in 2011, having signed a deal with Van Diemen works team Fluid Motorsport Development, and has been testing regularly since the end of last season in a bid to not only be the leading newcomer in the series, but also challenge for overall podium finishes.
The long-term deal with Team Lotus and AirAsia will provide both stability and opportunity for the Welsh-born youngster, allowing him to benefit from the experience within the F1 team and its sister GP2 operation, Team AirAsia, while being guided through the formative years of his single-seater career.
“The chance to link up with Team Lotus is fantastic,” Parry admitted, “It is not the sort of opportunity that comes along every day, and I am very fortunate that Team Lotus and AirAsia have decided that I am worth backing. I am looking forward to making full use of the experience and facilities on offer to me as I make the transition from karts to cars.
“Having tested regularly with the Fluid MD Van Diemen, I am already excited about the year ahead, and confident that, with the support of Team Lotus and AirAsia, it can be a successful season.”
The AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Programme is overseen by former F1 driver Alex Yoong and already includes drivers from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and America.
“I believe that Matthew shows all the hallmarks of a very talented driver, and am excited to have signed him as part of the AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program,” Yoong commented, “We will provide Matthew will advice and guidance throughout his debut season with Fluid Motorsport Developments in Formula Ford, and look forward to sharing in his success.”
Parry graduates to Formula Ford having won back-to-back national karting titles in Junior Max and has tested impressively with Fluid throughout the winter, leading to Motorsport News electing him as the number one selection on its annual 'Fast 50' prediction. He will contest not only the British championship, but also the four-round Eurocup and end-of-season Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch.
Parry, who was accepted onto the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence at Loughborough in recognition of his achievements and ability, will make his Formula Ford race debut in the season's opening triple-header at Silverstone on the weekend of 9-10 April.