Rick Parfitt Jr has made British GT Championship history. The Nottingham-based racer, and son of the late Status Quo star Rick Parfitt, became the first driver to have won both the GT4 title, in 2013, and the outright British GT Championship. Rick Jr and Seb Morris lifted the crown after a thrilling championship finale at Donington Park.
The title race was finely balanced with Parfitt and Morris, in the Team Parker Bentley Continental GT3, 10.5 points clear of the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, but Parfitt and Morris would have to serve a 20-second success penalty, during their pit-stop, for their win in the previous round at Brands Hatch. The Lamborghini had taken four wins in one-hour sprints while the Bentley had three victories in longer enduro rounds. A fifth win, in this two-hour finale, would give Minshaw and Keen the title regardless of where the Bentley finished.
The title rivals were side-by-side on row two of the grid behind the TF Sport Astons of Mark Farmer/Jon Barnes and outgoing champions Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam.
Minshaw made a great start to take second behind Farmer while the cautious Parfitt slipped to fifth behind Liam Griffin in the second Barwell Lamborghini. This was very much advantage Minshaw but, keen to put pressure on the leader – even at his early stage, the Lamborghini’s rear broke away through the Esses on lap 2. This sent Minshaw spinning to the tail of the GT3 entries, handing the advantage back to Parfitt and Morris.
“I concentrated on trying not to hit him, that’s all I cared about,” a breathless Parfitt later recalled. “I made a choice and luckily it was the right side. I knew that was our opportunity, so then it became a race of attrition and you have to drive with your head.”
Parfitt further boosted his title hopes when he took third place, on lap 11, with an opportunistic move as Griffin got caught up in slower traffic through the Craner Curves. “There was no point in attacking the Astons. The tactic was, if we had the opportunity, to build a gap. I tried to drive consistently, but I was so hot and the car was getting very rear-endy towards the end of the stint.”
Minshaw had recovered to fifth by the mid-race pit-stops before handing over to Keen. With all stops completed Jonny Adam’s Aston was ahead of the sister car of Jon Barnes (another with a success penalty) with Keen in third place. Seb Morris emerged in fifth place before passing Ben Green’s Nissan for fourth.
Adam went on lead Barnes to a TF Sport Aston Martin 1-2 with Keen still 4 seconds adrift in third place. After getting his breath back Rick Parfitt anxiously followed Morris’s progress towards the title, on the monitor in the garage, surrounded by friends, family and wife Rachel before heading for the pit wall.
As Morris crossed the line to seal the championship, Rick Jr celebrated and then looked to the sky, thinking of his late father who passed away last Christmas. “Rick (senior) would have been so proud,” said Rachel. “We are always thinking about him.”
“Team Parker have been incredible this year,” said Parfitt Jr afterwards. “They have brought me on as a driver, Seb’s brought me on as a driver. As a pairing I couldn’t want for a better team mate. He’s world class and I’ve really benefitted from having him as a partner. What a competitive championship it is. Minshaw and Keen are a class act, they’ve driven hard all year and Barwell always take it to the last round of the championship.
“We literally only said we were going to do this a couple of weeks before the season started,” he added. “It was so-last minute and so tight on budget. We both brought budget to the team to come and do this drive, we’re true Pro-Am!”
Whilst Minshaw and Keen were on the podium to collect the trophy for third in the race, they were later excluded from the results after overtaking under a caution flag. This promoted Parfitt and Morris to third in the race while Liam Griffin and Sam Tordoff were classified in fourth place. Jonny Adams’ victory was his 12th in the championship, making him British GT’s winning-most driver.
In the GT4 class victory went to the McLaren 570S GT4 of Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson. Second place was enough to secure the GT4 title for Stuart Middleton and William Tregurtha in their Ginetta G55 GT4.