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Team Parker Racing opened the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season in Italy at the weekend (July 24-26), but unfortunately some bad luck cost the team a shot at silverware.

Despite the best efforts of Bentley Motorsport Academy drivers Frank Bird, Nicolai Kjærgaard, and Euan McKay, a brake issue in the second hour of the race put paid to the team’s chances after it had been running as high as third place in the Silver Cup.

Starting sixth in class, Penrith born-Frank took the opening stint on his GT debut, but his time behind the wheel was beset by three Safety Car periods. The Cumbrian did well to avoid drama, including when two cars made contact in front of him on the second re-start, handing over to Nicolai just before the end of the first hour.

The Dane, also taking part in his first GT3 race, instantly showed why he earned a spot in the team for the 2020 season, shooting past a class rival to claim third place on his first racing lap. Running in the top 20 overall and closing in on the Silver Cup leaders, he had to serve a penalty handed to the team for speeding under a caution flag, though came out of the pits ahead of the eventual class winner.

The bad luck was further compounded however, when he lost brakes at the fastest point of the circuit, though he managed to bring the car back to the pits. That led to a lengthy stop which ruled out of any chance of a podium finish, however, the team battled hard to fix the problem and get the car back in the race, with Euan taking the final stint to finish ninth in class.

The next round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup is set to take place at the Nürburgring in Germany over the weekend of September 4-6, where the Bentley Motorsport Academy drivers will be back on track.

Frank Bird: “I really enjoyed my first rolling start. I was right in at the deep end and it was absolute mayhem, so it was pretty difficult to keep out of trouble, but I managed to and kept chipping away. The Safety Cars made it hard to catch the guys in front. Drivers kept speeding up and slowing down and one ran in the back of another in front of me, so even though it was behind the Safety Car you still had to be right on it and alert. We had good pace in the end. Free practice was tough as we struggled a lot with the set up, so we started on the back foot, but the team worked really hard and got the car sorted for the race so hopefully that puts us in a good window for the Nürburgring. It was unfortunate what happened with the brakes, but that’s racing.”

* Meanwhile, Frank will be back in rally action in less than a month when the M-Sport backed ‘Return to Rally’ event will take place on August 22nd. Based exclusively in Greystoke Forest near Penrith behind closed doors, the 21 year old will team up with Hexham co-driver Jack Morton in their Dom Buckley Motorsport-prepared Ford Focus WRC07, with backing from VisionTrack, Yuasa, Frank Bird Poultry, Hager, Mac Tools, Fuchs Silkolene and PBM for the 38 stage mile event.

For further information, please visit the team website: http://www.pbmuk.net (http://www.pbmuk.net/) and http://www.teamparkerracing.com

Picture (courtesy of Drew Gibson/Bentley Motorsport): Frank Bird in action in the Bentley Continental GT3 at Imola.

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