26th May 2020

Following Stephen Jelley’s ‘Back to the BTCC’ interview last week (21 May), caught up with the Team Parker Racing man to discuss all things 2020 and how he’s using the momentum of 2019 to fuel the fire of his forthcoming Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign.

It was obviously a tough first couple of campaigns with Team Parker Racing, but you really seem to find some form with the BMW last season. Talk us through how 2019 went for you.

Last season I feel my driving performance was back at the level it should be. It was getting there at the back end of 2018 but pre-season gives a really good test bed to improve and with that you can develop the car properly. We were confident the changes we made were in the right direction and managed a podium at the first race meeting; Brands has always been a strong circuit for me. Obviously Oulton Park was a standout but there were circuits that we didn’t perform where we should have done better, notably Croft and Knockhill. The car is in a good place now. Its not a 3 series but its a winning package that we have knowledge of.    

Talk us through the frustration of the season being delayed; how have you been keeping yourself busy?

It's annoying as we had a really positive pre-season. I missed the official pre-season test due to having Covid symptoms (which was actually tonsillitis). I sat and watched Josh Webster on the live timing doing a fantastic job in the car. There's nothing more frustrating than watching another driver in your seat – even if he did do a great job!

Since then I’ve been trying to make the most of the situation we are in. I've been spending a lot of time with the kids, turned our garden into Kew, become an expert in baking sourdough bread, played the guitar a lot, done a lot of exercise, and drank too much gin and tonic. I basically swap between being perfectly happy and having massive cabin fever every couple of hours.

I ran a half-marathon from the front door at the same time as a bunch of other drivers from the BRDC which I wish I’d taken a bit more seriously. But I came second!

I’ve considered Esports but realised I’d have to practice all day and bike rides with my daughter are more important. When this season starts I may be away a lot so the time I put towards my family now will be important.       

This will be your third season in the BMW 1 Series – what are your targets for the 2020 campaign?

An intelligent sports Psychologist (Dr Matt Pain) got me out of goal setting a long time ago, and now more than ever his words are very useful: 'control the controllable'. Our plan was to become more consistent, which would enable us to be more competitive at a range of circuits, and to improve the car in the wet. Pre-season we achieved that.

Our financial position once we start will dictate to a degree the plan for each weekend. My sponsors support me and I feel I have to help them in any way I can – I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity they give me to race in the BTCC.

What I do know is I can’t wait to get back in the car, I haven’t even seen it in its 2020 livery yet! © 2024
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