Plant takes maiden Carrera win with Parker, Team Report
Top Porsche Carrera Cup GB squad Team Parker Racing made a superb start to the 2012 season at Brands Hatch, with Richard Plant taking victory in the opening race to set the team up to head the Teams Championship standings at the end of the weekend.Yorkshireman Plant qualified second and applied immense pressure to on-the-road leader Michael Meadows throughout the race. When Meadows was penalised five seconds for exceeding track limits, Plant was promoted to victory.Although Plant could claim to have forced Meadows into the infringement by his pressure, he was modest about his achievement. “I think it was about 20 per cent me!” he joked. “It was partly that, combined with his own mistakes, but I’m so happy to win. I couldn’t ask for any more.”Plant had one close call to take the lead: “At one point I managed to get alongside, but at that exact moment the safety car boards came out so I had to leave it and tuck in behind him again.”Unfortunately, Plant jumped the gun at the start of the second race before the lights went out, realised his mistake and braked, and then got swamped when the race got underway. Compounding this, he was then given a drive-through penalty for a false start, dropping him right to the tail of the field. In a fighting performance, he stormed back to seventh place and gained a bonus point for grabbing fastest lap – by a full two tenths of a second. It leaves him third in the championship.The fortunes of team-mate Daniel Lloyd went the other way. The Carrera Cup Scholarship winner, on his series debut, was running fourth in race one when his tyre blew approaching Paddock Hill Bend, forcing him spectacularly out of the race. On the front row for race two, he did a great job to shadow race winner Meadows all the way to the flag to grab a second place on his maiden Carrera Cup weekend.“It was so hard,” he said. “Because of the blowout in race one, we went a little bit higher on tyre pressures for race two and they went off fairly early on. You can’t make one mistake or you’re done, but at the same time you have to keep pushing. But I’m over the moon with my pace – and after a real low yesterday I’m pleased to it have this way round, with a good result to finish the weekend.Sam Tordoff, the third of Parker’s young Yorkshire aces, claimed fourth position in both races. “I was a bit disappointed in qualifying – it just didn’t happen for me,” he said. “We were just the wrong side of a tenth that would’ve moved me up nicely. But I’m pleased to have raced well.”The results of Plant and Tordoff mean that Team Parker Racing leads the Teams Championship, delighting team principal Stuart Parker, whose squad also won the teams’ award for the weekend.“The first race was great apart from Dan’s problem,” he said. “From a team perspective it’s absolutely great. ‘Planty’ and Dan both excelled in qualifying, and Dan’s second and third on the grid have got to rate as one of the best debuts for a Porsche Scholarship winner that anyone’s ever seen, and he kept Meadows honest throughout race two.“We’re absolutely delighted with the win for Richard. He’s really come back on a different level this year and that was a great reward. Sam was really fast all through testing, didn’t quite hook it up in qualifying but raced well.”PIERCE LEADS A PRO-AM1 ONE-TWONot only did the Parker squad have a victorious opening race in the overall classification, but the team’s Derek Pierce and Michael Leonard claimed first and second respectively in the pro-Am1 class.Pierce made his customary storming start to take the lead, and Leonard battled his way through to second.“I did a mega start,” said Scotsman Pierce. “I was with the main pack until the safety car, with Michael harassing me. After the safety car there was a lot of coolant down so I was being cautious, and I drove a steady race. I’m particularly pleased with that.”Irishman Leonard had immense pressure for his runner-up spot. “I didn’t get one minute to chill out,” he said.Unfortunately the second race started with Pierce in the barriers at the first corner, and then Leonard went out when he damaged his radiator on the back of Plant’s car while leading the pro-am1 class.Team principal Stuart Parker was highly impressed with both men. “Derek and Michael have been really strong all weekend,” he said, “all the way through qualifying and racing.“It’s a real shame what happened in the second race, and Michael was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I think they’ve both done a terrific job.”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 itv.com/touringcars. The teams now head for Donington Park in Leicestershire, Team Parker Racing’s home ground, for the second race weekend on April 14/15.