Team Parker Racing travelled to the Nürburgring with its Bentley Continental GT3 for round two of the GT World Challenge Endurance Cup at the weekend (September 4-6), but contact from another car in the opening laps cost any chance of a good result.
After a brake failure hampered the chances of Bentley Motorsport Academy members Frank Bird, Euan McKay, and Nicolai Kjærgaard at Imola last time out, hopes were high for a strong performance to get their Silver Cup class campaign back on track.
With Nicolai starting the six-hour race, he kept out of trouble on the opening lap before the Safety Car was called to recover several stricken machines. Ready to take the restart a couple of laps later, he noticed cars ahead accelerate then brake, so also slowed down, but the car behind didn’t do so in time, making heavy contact with the diffuser and rear wheel.
The Danish racer brought the Bentley back to the pits and hard work by the team to repair the damage meant the Bentley returned to the race, but some six laps down, removing any chance of making significant progress.
Despite the setback, Nicolai, Euan, and Frank dug deep and put in competitive lap times which, under normal circumstances, might have left the trio in with a chance of a podium finish, with their efforts paying off in the final stages as they claimed eighth place in the Silver Cup.
All three drivers will return to action in the Bentley Motorsport Academy Continental GT3 on September 29/30, when they take part in the official two-day test ahead of this year’s 24 Hours of Spa, which is set for October 22-25.
“I got a decent start and gained positions overall, but my mindset was to get through the first lap because I knew we had good race pace and in a six-hour race there’s no reason to risk it in the first five minutes. We had a Safety Car and at the restart the car behind either didn’t see or didn’t brake in time and rammed the rear of our car.
“That put us back, so it was all about picking up positions if anyone else had problems. As anticipated, we had a good car and Euan and Frank did a good job in their stints. A key thing to remember is we are an Academy. It is only my second race in a GT car and the first time I did a double stint, so we are still learning. If we can continue the race pace and have a bit more luck we should be in a good place at Spa.”
“It was frustrating to have our race ended so early on with someone driving into the back of us. There’s nothing we could have done, and it was unfortunate because the team worked tirelessly through the weekend to get the car into a good setup window and we had good balance during the race.
“Once we did get back out on track, all three of us showed great pace. We can definitely be buoyed with what we saw today, and we just need a bit of luck. No one put a foot wrong, it was just bad luck. That’s racing, so we’ll get our heads down, move on to Spa, and from what we’ve seen today we are confident we can challenge for a win in the Silver Cup.”
“It was a tough weekend. We struggled a little in sector one but were competitive in sectors two and three and the team were fantastic and worked flat-out all weekend. Nicolai started the race and was hit from behind on the Safety Car restart, but the team fixed the diffuser really quickly and he drove well after that. Euan did a nice and consistent stint and it was going well for me before I had a little spin at the chicane.
“I set good lap times and even passed the Silver Cup leader and kept the car behind me, which was good, but overall it was a frustrating weekend. We have the Spa test next and the circuit should suit the Bentley a bit more so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can get some good data for the 24 Hours.”
Source. Torque/Photo. Drew Gibson Photography/Bentley Motors