Parker man Jelly boosts title hopes with Brands win

Stephen Jelley scored a crucial fifth win of the season at Brands Hatch, and in doing so the Team Parker Racing driver has put himself in pole position for the Porsche Carrera Cup GB title heading into the final round at Silverstone.Jelley was third in race one before his win in race two to promote himself to second in the points standings. But with each driver’s worst score discarded under championship regulations, Parker with Juta-entered Jelley moves level with points leader Michael Meadows, and then gets the verdict with five wins to the two of his rival.The critical moment came on lap three of the 17-lap second race, when Jelley speared ahead of Meadows in a dramatic manoeuvre for second place. When the race leader pulled off four laps later with tyre failure, Jelley moved in front.“My two years in the British Touring Car Championship certainly showed with that move!” said Leicester racer Jelley, who went on to win by three seconds. “He was defending very aggressively, and there are times when you’ve just got to go for it. Thankfully it’s a dry day, so having two wheels on the grass to pass him was OK.“After that it was a case of being very careful – that paid off, because as it turns out the tyre has gone down. I must have had a slow puncture and it wouldn’t have lasted much longer – I think somebody’s on my side!”In the first race, a strong move at the start promoted Jelley to third, from where he shadowed James Sutton, his other title rival, to the finish.Team-mate Euan Hankey was disappointed to qualify sixth fastest, after running off the road on new tyres on a lap that he felt should have put him right in contention.The Taunton driver moved up to fourth in the opening race as others made mistakes, and was chasing Jelley with five laps to go when he slid off the road at the Druids hairpin and out of the race. “It was a massive error,” he said. “I went to downchange and the gear didn’t go in at first. I braked as hard as I could but it was all I could do to avoid Stephen.”In a strong second race, Hankey rose to third and put pressure on Meadows once Jelley had taken the lead: “I was faster than him on the Indy circuit; he was faster on the Grand Prix track. It was frustrating, but a solid result.”Team principal Stuart Parker said: “I’m a little bit annoyed not to keep our Brands winning streak up, because we had 11 out of the last 14 before this weekend!“Stephen has done an absolutely fantastic job. It’s a testament to his ability to keep the emotion of the title fight aside and focus on the job. That shows in the maturity of his driving, and he controlled things after what could prove to be a very decisive move on Meadows.“Euan was doing a great job in race one but unfortunately had a moment of confusion and it was game over, but he drove a really good race in the second one.”TORDOFF REVERSES RUN OF ILL FORTUNESam Tordoff ended his unlucky summer run to claim a fourth place – the best position of the weekend for Team Parker Racing’s pair of Yorkshire-based Carrera Cup rookies.Tordoff made a return to form to qualify seventh fastest, and was running in the same position in race one when he was forced off the road by drivers recovering from sliding wide on coolant.He made a pitstop, mistakenly believing he had a puncture, but needed a new front splitter anyway. From there he showed strong pace to finish 14th.In race two, Tordoff made good progress in an enormous early battle to claim fourth, and managed to fend off title contender Sutton in impressive style to the finish.“I used my new tyres better in qualifying this weekend and I was closer to the front,” he said. “The bad luck continued in the first race, but I’m really happy with such a strong performance in race two.”Team-mate Richard Plant moved up the order to fifth in the first race, and was making overtures to pass Meadows, when a left-rear tyre blowout struck on the penultimate lap. After a pitstop, he finished outside the top 15 points scorers – incredibly for the first time ever in his Carrera Cup career. In the second race he took eighth place to score move valuable points.“The first race reminded me that this is one of the most heartbreaking sports you can do,” he said. “In the second race the tyres didn’t seem to be so good; I drove my heart out but I was lucky to finish where I did.”Team chief Stuart Parker said: “Sam has improved all weekend. He did a good job in qualifying and was having a good first race until he got shoved off. He had a charging second race and his fourth place was well-deserved. Planty had a stonking race in the first one, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. He just has to focus on the next weekend.”PIERCE AND MARTIN OUT OF LUCKThe Dextra JD Pierce by Parker drivers in the pro-am1 class had an unlucky weekend with tyre failure.Scotsman Derek Pierce was running fourth in class with three laps remaining in the first race when he was forced to park his car after a left-rear blowout. His team-mate, West Countryman Alex Martin, was chasing him when he had his own puncture. Martin came into the pits for a new tyre, before another blowout put him out of the race.Pierce had moved up to third in class – a podium position – in race two but faded in the last few laps and finally took fourth. Martin passed Pierce to claim third and was running lap times that would have put him in the top eight overall, but unluckily for him he suffered yet another blowout on the penultimate lap. He crossed the line seventh in class.“We qualified poorly but I made two good starts,” said Pierce. “In the first race I should have finished ninth overall, which would have been great. In the second I felt that the tyre was going again, so I just backed off because I couldn’t afford to not finish again – there was just no grip in the right-hand corners.”“I think the second puncture in race one was my fault,” said Martin. “I had a bit of red mist and pushed too soon. In the second race the car felt great – Team Parker Racing did an amazing job on it and my lap times were great. For that to happen is heartbreaking.”Michael Leonard also rejoined Team Parker Racing’s pro-am1 line-up for the first time this season. He qualified fourth in class, but was unfortunate not to make the finish of either race.Team principal Stuart Parker said: “Alex and Derek had a nightmare in the first race, and we think it’s to do with running onto kerbs when the pressures are too low in the tyres. But they recovered and had a strong race today, and Alex was doing some storming lap times.”As part of the ultra-popular British Touring Car Championship package, the Porsche Carrera Cup GB enjoyed live coverage of its second race at Brands Hatch on ITV4 and ITV4 HD, and was streamed live at The thrilling title showdown is at Silverstone in Northamptonshire at the final round on October 15/16.