Rick Parfitt Jnr dedicated his Silverstone 500 victory alongside Seb Morris in the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley to his late father – Rick Parfitt – in an emotional afternoon at the blue-riband three-hour GT event on Sunday.
Parfitt Jnr blazed past Jack Mitchell‘s pole-sitting #24 Macmillan AMR Aston Martin Vantage heading into the first turn, before opening up a commanding gap that would see the #31 Bentley comfortably cruise to a second GT3 win of the season.
As Morris crossed the line to seal a glorious win, an overwhelmed Parfitt Jnr clambered atop the pit-lane fencing and jubilantly punched the air in delight as his partner surged past, before tearfully pointing up to the sky in a tribute to father Rick Parfitt – who passed away in December 2016.
Despite claiming victory at Rockingham, it was the first time both Parfitt Jnr and Morris had stood proudly on the top step of the podium this year – having only been declared winners at Rockingham following a post-race penalty for the #21 Spirit of Race SA Ferrari 488 of Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin.
In the post-race press conference, a triumphant Parfitt Jnr expressed what victory meant to him personally in an emotional tribute.
“It’s great to win, and I’d also like to dedicate the win to my late Dad, who was here last season, and I’m sure he would have loved that and to have been here this year as well,” Parfitt Jnr said.
A storming start that saw Parfitt Jnr muscle into a decisive lead was a result of an incredible get-away from the lights, with nobody able to challenge the dominate Bentley thereafter.
“Our strategy was to run the car really light and to run shorter stints in order to maximise speed. My job was to try to jump the Aston Martin at the start.
“I almost second-guessed the lights, but the start was bang-on, which gave me that little bit of impetus to get into the first corner ahead.
“The car’s really suited to sector one and two, and it was absolutely brilliant through Maggots and Becketts, so we just played to that and tried to keep it neat and tidy.”
Parfitt Jnr’s chances of race victory were almost shattered midway through after a collision with Mark Farmer‘s #11 TF Sport Aston Martin at Stowe corner, with the Bentley fortunate to escape unscathed whilst Farmer suffered a spin following an overzealous blocking attempt.
“[Farmer] had blue flags the whole lap before, and it was quite obvious I was a lot quicker than him. I was absolutely alongside, and since we weren’t fighting for position there was no need for him to turn in on me. He’s a good guy and I know he didn’t want to wreck our race – but that was a quite a worrying moment.”
Victory for Parfitt Jnr and Morris ignited the Team Parker Racing Bentley duo’s championship chances, with the pairing now only four points back of GT3 table-toppers Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen‘s #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan heading into the upcoming international round of Spa-Francorchamps on July 8.