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Q&A with British GT Championship leader Rick Parfitt Jr

Friday, September 01 2017

What do you find most nerve wracking, getting on a stage to perform in front of thousands of people, or getting behind the wheel of a GT3 Bentley?

I have a very similar sense of nervousness actually. I am very competitive and have this same feeling during qualy as I do at the start of a gig; winning over an audience appeals to my competitive side. Whether I am behind the wheel or the microphone, I give 110% every time, and expect the same from my band members as I do from everyone at Team Parker. Feedback from both the team via radio when you are on track and the audience during a gig drives you on, and you can use tricks of trade in either situation to go quicker or endear yourself to the crowd. I never give up on either the race or the gig, and always come off the stage and the track knowing that I have done absolutely the best I can do.

Why sports car racing?

I came up through the ranks of endurance karting so GT racing really suits me. I find the whole strategy side of the sport fascinating and enjoy having a teammate and working together to get the best out of the car.

You are very open about your battle with Crohn's Disease…how do you find it affects your performance on track?

I am open about it simply because I want to share the ups and downs of the disease. I want to acknowledge it, yet still always try my best whatever the circumstances. At both the Silverstone and Oulton Park rounds this year I was suffering with bad flare ups. On a physical level it was agony getting into the car whilst mentally it really got me down, but I refuse to let it stop me from aiming at my dreams and striving to do my best. I think it's also important to show that everyone has their trials; from the outside I guess my life looks fairly charmed - racing car driver by day and rock & roll performer by night - so even more reason to share the tricky bits of life as well.

How difficult is the Donington decider going to be?

I think it is going to be hugely difficult! Whilst it is amazing to be coming into my home race in the leading squad for the championship decider, the 20-second success penalty will for sure make it difficult. We need to be as tactical as possible and go as hard at it as we can straight from the off. Qualy will be important and at the start of the race we need to push like crazy and get out front to build a gap. Obviously our ultimate aim is to finish in front of the Lambo, but we will see!

How is it being part of Team Parker?

Team Parker is genuinely amazing and for sure the best team I have ever been with. It is a real family team with a huge will to win and everyone, no matter what their position, really cares about the outcome. The team has taught me a lot and I feel that this year I have really learnt to be a proper team player. I have always helped and worked well with my teammates throughout the years but at Team Parker it is about helping the whole team to achieve and I love being part of that.

Would you prefer a wet or dry race?

I think 'prefer' doesn't do it justice; we need it to be dry and we make no bones about it! The Bentley is notoriously difficult in the wet with traction issues out of the tight corners. Conversely the Lambo is phenomenal in the wet with brilliant handling. Wet would certainly give Minshaw and Keen the upper hand.

What would you say are the strengths of your car over that of the competition?

I would say our definite advantage is in tyre performance. Our two main competitor cars, the Aston Martin and the Lamborghini are certainly quicker on brand new tyres, but when the initial grip goes, our tyres perform better than the rest of the grid. I would say that we perform best on a track with lots of long sweeping curves. The double hairpins   at Donington kill us, but we have a traction upgrade for this event, so hope that these issues will be less obvious.

Donington is your local circuit, what is your previous form like here?

Well I love the circuit and feel at home here. We moved to Nottingham fairly recently so I can regularly pop over to the circuit for cups of tea and a burger and take a look at whatever is going on, just like I did today. I also played with my band here at MotoGP a few years back, which was great fun. From a racing perspective I have done well in all of the categories of racing I have competed in here and been on the podium on most visits to the track.

How does GT3 racing compare to other series you have raced in?

Well firstly the cars are amazing. All of them are incredible bits of machinery as well as being beautiful and aspirational; in fact they are everything you dreamt of as a 13-year-old boy. They sound amazing - the Ferrari screams and Bentley sounds like thunder - and from a driver's perspective when you have such a big heavy and powerful car on the edge of its adhesion around the corners, the sensation is awesome. Having raced in both the GT5 and GT4 championships, I have enjoyed a natural sense of progression so it is hard to directly compare. I am the kind of person that throws myself into whatever championship I am part of at that time and focus wholly on that rather than making comparisons elsewhere.

What is your favourite part of the Donington circuit?

It has to be the Craner Curves - they always sharpen the mind and make you focus!

Any ambitions?

My racing ambition is to race at Le Mans and my musical ambition is to play at Glastonbury!