Team Parker Racing opened the 2023 Porsche Sprint Challenge GB season at its home circuit, Donington Park at the weekend (April 22/23), claiming three overall podium finishes.
Debutant Joe Warhurst impressed, securing a pair of second places and adding a third, while Matt Armstrong, Robert Cronin, and John White battled tricky conditions on the second day, where wet weather settled in over the Leicestershire venue.
Qualifying on Saturday morning was a closely fought session, with both Matt and Joe battling for the top spot, eventually finishing second and third, respectively. Robert did well on his debut, eighth fastest in the Pro class, while John crossed the line tenth in Am. On second fastest times, which set the grid for race two, Joe finished on pole on his debut, with Matt fifth, while Robert and John were once again eighth and tenth in class.
All four drivers got off the line well for race one that afternoon, with John and Robert doing well to avoid the stalled machine of Max Coates. Matt fell back two positions as Steve Roberts got past into McLeans, which helped Will Jenkins get ahead as well, while Joe continued to put pressure on Toby Trice for the lead. An error by Jenkins gave Matt a chance for fourth in the closing stages, but as he made the move, he had a slide coming out of Redgate and fell back to fifth again.
Race two, on Sunday morning, featured difficult, cold, wet conditions on track, which caught out Matt on the opening lap as he touched the kerb going into the Old Hairpin and spun at speed into the barriers. Joe was quickly into battle for the lead, fending off Trice before the Safety Car was called. After a second SC period, Joe came under pressure from Steve Roberts, relinquishing the lead, but he held on for another second place finish, while Robert and John both brought it home in seventh place in Pro and Am.
Sadly, the Safety Car was called on the opening lap of race three as John and Neil Tofts came together at Coppice, with both ending up in the gravel. The race restarted with 11 minutes on the clock, with Joe settling into second place, while Matt began to make his way through the field and Robert enjoyed a four-car battle for seventh overall.
In the closing minutes Joe came under increasing pressure from Max Coates, who managed to get past into the final chicane. The youngster fought back on the final lap, but also had to watch his mirrors as Trice joined the battle. However, he held on, making it a hat-trick of podiums on his debut, while Matt managed to get past Robert for seventh in Pro.
After three visits to the podium, the Porsche Sprint Challenge GB side of the team will next be in action at Snetterton, over the weekend of May 20/21, for rounds four, five, and six of the 2023 season.
Joe Warhurst, #95, Pro
G1 – 2, R1 – 2
G2 – 1, R2 – 2
G3 – 2, R3 – 3
Championship: 3 (22 points)
“I wanted to come into the championship with a bang and was aiming for the win, but we saved our tyres for race two where we started on pole position. Team Parker Racing has done an excellent job with everything they do. In Ginetta we had some problems with the car which took forever to fix, but in testing if anything comes up, I tell the team and it is fixed like a flash, so I’m really happy to be with the team.
“Three podiums on my debut weekend in Porsches is more than I could really have asked for. It would have been nice to get a win, but it’s a long season. We’ve got 18 races, and this was only three of them. We hadn’t tested here until this week, whereas everybody else had a test day last Friday in the wet, so we were already at a disadvantage. The fact that we could get two podiums in two wet races when we’ve had little to no wet experience in this car – I’m more than happy with that. It was good, clean, hard racing and that’s what we like. Everybody’s friends in this paddock.”
Matt Armstrong, #19, Pro
G1 – 3, R1 – 5
G2 – 5, R2 – DNF
G3 – 9, R3 – 7
Championship: 7 (6 points)
“It was a difficult weekend. Qualifying didn’t help, I had the lap cancelled which would have been pole position, so I was on the back foot from there, and then I just didn’t really have the speed in the dry or wet. With the crash in race two, it couldn’t have gone much worse.
“As I started fifth for race two, I had to be a little bit aggressive, so I tried to make a move and it turned out it wasn’t on. I clipped the kerb and went around into the wall, so a big thanks to the team for repairing the car. They’re always brilliant at getting us back out there when these things happen.”
Robert Cronin, #26, Pro
G1 – 8, R1 – 9
G2 – 8, R2 – 7
G3 – 7, R3 – 8
Championship: 8 (3 points)
“I made up some positions and lost some positions in race one which was annoying, but we got through it. I had a close moment at the start, with a stalled car that got my attention. It’s going to take a while to know how to race this car compared to karting as its quite different, but the team has done a superb job both this weekend and at every test day we’ve been to.
“I had better results on Sunday, and I keep learning so much. I struggled with the racecraft in the last race where I had the speed to stick with the people who got past me, but I just couldn’t pass the car in front. It’s difficult because I’m holding back a bit and the speed probably didn’t look great, but it will come as the year goes on. overall, I enjoyed the weekend.”
John White, #17, Am
G1 – 10, R1 – 10
G2 – 10, R2 – 7
G3 – 7, R3 – DNF
Championship: 8 (2 points)
“It was quite a good weekend. I was a bit slow because I didn’t test on Thursday, so I came into it a bit raw. I took that on the chin, and I still enjoyed the first race. The second race I enjoyed too. It was competitive, and we all came out of it unscathed. In the third race I was late breaking and I don’t think the car on the outside saw me.
“It was a bit of a concertina; it was three abreast and I had the legs going up to the corner. I braked and the other driver braked so late that the other one just had no chance to see me then. Everything else about the weekend was good, it’s just that single moment that made it a bit of a nightmare, really.”
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