Team Parker Racing made its return to the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup at Monza at the weekend (22/23 April), relieved to reach the flag after a trying weekend with its new type 992 Porsche GT3 R.
Climbing behind the wheel were Derek Pierce, Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Kiern Jewiss, and as Andy Meyrick was on duty in the European Le Mans Series, his spot was filled by Porsche contract driver Jaxon Evans for the weekend.
The New Zealander was able to give the team the benefit of his experience as they worked to dial the car into the circuit. Experimenting with different setups the drivers worked together with the team to tame the handling characteristics of the new car, leading to some late nights.
Sunday morning’s qualifying session was firstly delayed due to electrical issues at the circuit, and then curtailed when the problem re-occurred, resulting in Q3 being cancelled. Consequently, the grid order was determined by the aggregate times of regular driver Derek Pierce and Kiern Jewiss from the first two sessions.
Lining up a disappointing 17th of the Bronze Cup cars, the focus was on making forward progress and finishing the race. Derek started and did well to avoid an opening lap incident that eliminated two cars and brought out the Safety Car. Racing resumed 15 minutes later but almost immediately the racing came under a Full Course Yellow, followed by a Safety Car as cars collided at the Rettifilo Chicane.
The race finally restarted after half an hour, allowing Derek to get his head down and make up for lost time. Having gained over half a dozen places he pitted to hand over to Kiern on lap 29. Making his endurance racing debut, the 20-year-old got down to it and continued to move up through the field. Jaxon took over for the final stint of the three-hour race, bringing the white and orange machine home 35th overall, a gain of 20 places, and 11th in the Bronze Cup.
Whilst the performance of the car was not where the team or drivers wanted it to be, there were signs of promise with plenty of avenues opening for the team to work on at the official 24 Hours of Spa Test Days next month. It was also reassuring to take the flag, providing the drivers with plenty of track time, and the team lots of data to review.
“It was a difficult weekend. As a team, we never find ourselves at the back, which we did today and which is frustrating for everybody, especially considering the amount of work and effort all the team put into it, but we’ve learned a lot over the weekend and we’ll look onwards and upwards for the next one. We’ve got a lot of work to do before the Spa test, but the car’s home, the car’s square, and we’re finished.
“We made 20 places up, so, it’s not the end of the world, but it was a challenging weekend. I think the whole Porsche package at the moment is going through team development, so probably by mid to the end of the season it will be brilliant, but I think everybody has got to get their head around it. I’ve got a bit more seat time, but I was on average a good second and a half off where the boys were, so I’ve got to find at least another good second to get up to the where I should be and where I normally am. Jaxon has been great, Kiern’s great, Andy’s back for next meeting, so, collectively we’ll get on top of it and I’ve always got great faith in Team Parker Racing.”
“It’s not the result we hoped for coming into the weekend, but you have to focus on the positives. At the end of the day, it’s all good experience at the moment. It has given us a base to work from and hopefully, fingers crossed, we can keep progressing. We have the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa Official Test days coming up next month where hopefully, we can have a better time and get a better understanding of things. I think that’s where we’re at the moment.
“Balance of Performance is something new to me and it clearly favoured the BMWs here, but we’ll go to tracks that will suit the Porsche better, so it balances out. I think I have to take every weekend as it comes and try and better myself as a driver and see how we go.”
“The weekend was, I think it’s fair to say, not what we were looking for in terms of results or feeling, but for sure there were some positive learnings to take away for the team, and for Derek and Kiern.
“Each time we went on track, we were trying to make progress, and no one stopped stop trying and we kept working at it. There are some good test points that we discovered for the future and hopefully, the team can have a better run it the Spa tests and the rest of the season. It’s been nice to be part of it this weekend and I’ve enjoyed working with Team Parker Racing but, unfortunately, it’s not the result we wanted.”
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