Team Parker Racing’s leading squad clinched second place in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB teams’ championship in the finale at Silverstone.
The Parker with Juta line-up of Stephen Jelley and Euan Hankey cemented the team’s runner-up spot, although Jelley was unfortunate to fail in his mission of claiming the drivers’ title.
Even so, over the course of the 2011 season, Jelley and Hankey each won five races to give Team Parker Racing 10 wins in total from 19 races. That compares to the three and two wins respectively for the series champion and runner-up, but Leicester driver Jelley and Somerset man Hankey had to make do with third and fourth in the championship.
Backing Jelley and Hankey up superbly were Carrera Cup rookies Richard Plant and Sam Tordoff, who claimed fifth and seventh respectively in the drivers’ championship and gave Team Parker Racing third in the teams’ title, one spot behind Parker with Juta. The two young Yorkshiremen each scored a fourth place at Silverstone.
It was Tordoff who emerged as the fastest of the eight-car Parker line-up in qualifying, taking fourth on the grid. On second-fastest times, setting the grid for race two, it was Hankey who headed the squad in sixth place.
Tordoff ran fourth early in the race until the charging Jelley, who had horrendous problems with slower traffic in qualifying to leave him seventh fastest, took advantage of Tordoff running wide to move ahead on lap three.
Jelley then closed on the leading trio. With nine laps to go he was right on their tail, but made contact with the car ahead on a dirty circuit and was forced out of the race.
“There was coolant down on the track,” said Jelley. “I thought I’d got a run on the cars ahead, braked where I normally do but locked up – I think I’ve got the world’s biggest flat-spot! I hit the car ahead right on its towing eye, and amazingly the draining button popped out of my radiator and emptied it.”
Tordoff took advantage to claim fourth place, missing out on a podium by less than 0,3 seconds. “I seemed to have really good pace in the second half of the race,” he said. “A couple more laps and maybe I could have done something to move up further.”
Hankey fought a sticking left-rear brake caliper to take sixth, on the tail of the third-place fight, while Plant won an excellent battle for seventh.
The second race provided a great display from Plant, who kept his head in a race of attrition to rise from 10th to fourth, less than a quarter of a second from a podium position.
Plant moved into contention as the race wore on, but the young Yorkshireman ran out of opportunities to take third. “I was just getting my head down to keep up, and sometimes luck comes to you,” he said. “I was getting alongside Ben Hetherington ahead of me to take third, but he knew what he had to do. It’s good though – I’ll take that and it was a satisfying end to the season.”
Fellow Yorkshireman Tordoff was out of luck, as was team-mate Hankey. They were both part of the trio battling for sixth when Hankey was hit by the car behind. As they spun, Tordoff was collected in the accident.
“I got completely taken out,” said Hankey, who continued for a few laps before retiring. “I got this big bump from behind and Sam couldn’t avoid me. My splitter is damaged, fluid is leaking out and the bumper’s rubbing on a tyre.”
Tordoff was relegated to 19th in the incident, but charged back to 10th. “Euan got leant on and I was already committed to the corner and we all spun – it looked like some sort of drift team!” he said. “But we made fantastic progress and were really quick.”
Jelley was the beneficiary of this incident, and then continued his charge to rise to fourth. He got involved in contact while going for third and lost time, but recovered to claim sixth, right on the back of the third-place battle. “That was entertaining, and I had nothing to lose!” he said. “I just had to go for it. Challenging for a podium from ninth on the grid is not a bad achievement – but it’s a shame I had to do it twice. It’s just a tale of rubbish qualifying; that’s what sunk me in the end.”
Team principal Stuart Parker said: “We’ve got to take the positives. We won more than 50 per cent of the races, which is a great record. Stephen’s qualifying went badly, but race one was fantastic right up until the point of impact. In race two he got up there again and proved again how well he can race and overtake.
“Euan had a difficult weekend and nothing seemed to go right, but he’s had a fantastic season as well.
“Sam went really well and for most of race two he was the second or third fastest driver on the track. Both he and Richard had a really positive weekend and I’m convinced both of them could be title contenders next season.”
LEONARD ON FORM IN PRO-AM1 CLASS BATTLE
Irishman Michael Leonard took the best result of Team Parker Racing’s pro-am1 class drivers at Silverstone, with a fourth place in race two.
Leonard bounced back after collecting a puncture in the first race, which restricted him to ninth in class. He ran strongly throughout race two to take ninth overall on only his second race weekend of the season with the Parker squad.
The Dextra JD Pierce by Parker team of Derek Pierce and Alex Martin notched up a full house of four finishes, with Scotsman Pierce taking a fifth and a sixth, and West Countryman Martin a sixth and an eighth.
Pierce defended fourth from a big train of cars in the first race, but was unable to cling onto the position and headed Martin to the finish. In race two, Pierce narrowly led Martin in another big fight, before Martin lost out while trying to move up. “Derek wasn’t making any mistakes, and when I made a move it didn’t quite come off and I lost a position,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the pro-am2 class John Taylor finished the season with a fifth and an eighth place.
Team principal Stuart Parker said: “To be fair to Michael, he didn’t half do well considering the lack of time he’s had in the car. Alex and Derek didn’t have their best weekends of the season, but they’ve kept up the challenge well this season and have had some good results.”
As part of the ultra-popular British Touring Car Championship package, the Porsche Carrera Cup GB enjoyed live coverage of its two races at Silverstone on ITV4 and ITV4 HD, and were streamed live at itv.com/touringcars.