First off I just want to start with how proud I am of my team. Energy Corse, GFR Engines, TM Racing Engines and Tillotson Carburetors. All of us have been working extremely hard ever since Zuera, Spain and the WSK Euro Series race. Just thinking about that race gives me a bad taste in my mouth. It was a tough weekend to swallow for all the parties involved in my program, it seemed if my program and I were not completely on their “A” game. My driving and feedback was not up to usual and for the first race since the Rotax Grand Finals my confidence was lost. We also lacked speed as a team. It was a combination.
Ever since the start of the season we have not been the fastest on track, but we’ve had some top-notch results. It’s been a learning curve of course. After the WSK Zuera race everybody hit the drawing board. We made progress that some drivers and teams in my opinion couldn’t come up with in a season, and we completed it in a week. Energy Corse has worked some wonders on my driving. We have got me to the point where we are competitive for wins, not just top-fives. There’s still much to learn, but when you drive for Mick Panigada you learn real quick that the littlest mistakes are not an option and that is something that is getting better every race. I am starting to feel comfortable with the team. Don’t get me wrong, I felt comfortable the moment I got on the team. But now we’re starting to click, especially with my mechanic. We know each other, and we’re starting to bond. He understands my driving style, and I understand his pattern for how we tune the chassis. If you have ever had an Italian mechanic you probably know it’s extremely hard. They accept nothing but the best. One mistake, and he’s going to be all over you for it. Europe isn’t a place for mistakes and I am starting to understand the concept. Zuera was a wakeup call for me and I needed it. I came into Europe from North America and I was at the top immediately. I didn’t need to learn to get to the top, which is great that I could do that but I need to learn. Results are great, but learning at this stage is more important.
Also ever since Zuera I have gotten a lot closer to the men who work 24-hour days, thousands of miles away from home to see that I succeed on the track. GFR Engines and I have been working together brilliantly and it showed this past weekend. Our development with the engines has grown immensely, I am working side by side with GFR and TM in development and so far in my opinion it’s working out really well. We are constantly making changes, and it seems we are headed in the right direction. I can’t predict the future, but at this rate we will definitely be very strong in the engine department before the European and World Championships. On top of our Engine development we have found a carburetor that works very well with our current program, and I cannot say enough good stuff about the company. Tillotson has kicked in on my program. We started with them this past race in Sarno and I’m excited to see where we’re headed! Everything looks good at the moment; I’m training harder than ever to stay at the top. I started working at the factory full time; helping the Energy Factory mechanics get work done. I think this is really important because I’m learning about how the mechanics of the kart really works. It’s an honour to work beside mechanics with such experience. They are so helpful in teaching me anything I need to learn about the chassis. This is fantastic.
WSK Masters Sarno breakdown:
In practice I was really quick. In the early stages of practice in the dry we were the leader. Eventually of course everybody started to catch up. Throughout all practice we stayed top five in our sessions though. I was really happy with this, I have never tested at the track before and it is not an easy tack. Also we are usually not quick until later in the week, so to see us at the front right away was a relief that we are indeed improving our program.
In qualifying we managed to make it into Superpole for the first time. This is the quickest six out of the two groups go into a shootout round to decide who is in positions 1-12. When we got to Superpole we didn’t know it at the time, but we suffered a major engine problem losing us 1000rpm overall around the track. We went on to qualify 12th.
In our heats we started 5th for most every heat except one where we started 6th. The heats went fantastic where we performed a 3rd, 5th, 2nd, and 3rd. We even lead two of the heats, which is new for me, but I’m happy I could gain the experience at the front battling.
The Pre-Final I was really disappointed with my driving. I wasn’t awake. I started third and managed to take the lead on the third lap and hold it for three laps. It all was thrown away when I was passed aggressively and put back to sixth. Still I had the pace to get back up to 2nd-3rd but due to some not so smart race craft decisions making my way back to the front I had to take a fifth.
The Final I redeemed myself. Starting tenth on the first lap I managed to advance to fourth and then on the second lap third. At the end of the second lap I went for another pass for second but the driver behind me made contact pushing me into the driver I was passing. I fell outside the top ten, but refocused and had a very strong drive back up to fourth place for a finishing position. Big thanks to all the partners of Parker Thompson Racing! Energy Corse Factory Racing Team, GFR Engines, TM Racing, Tillotson Carbs, Racing Against Cancer, Panigada Transport, Tillett Racing Seats, RLV, Douglas Wheels, Newline Racing Products, Bell Racing Helmets, Sparco, CanadianKartingNews.com and Sylvan Lake RV.
Sarno WSK Masters Debrief in the eyes of:
“Parker drove his best race in Europe, none the less I would like to see more out of him. I know where we can be with Parker and I know his potential, and that’s on top of the podium. We just have to minimize our mistakes; which he has made an immense improvement since he started with us, but if you want to win in Europe you can’t make any mistakes. This race was without a doubt Parker’s best race in Europe with us. His tuning of the carburetor during the races was quite good, a big improvement from the past. His qualifying on the new tires was good, usually we struggle with the new tires but Parker is learning how to treat them, and we made Superpole (top 12) a big improvement on his part. The program I have put him on, training for four hours every day he is not driving, dieting, working at the factory, and in a family environment with a trusted family of my family is a winning combination. In the races he is not getting tired mentally or physically, and with the family aspect he does not have to look after himself as much. He has a family that does things for him after the races like wash clothes and make food. This lets Parker relax and prepare for his next race, which is extremely important. Parker is adapting to Europe very good. It is a big change for a fifteen-year-old boy. I am happy with the progress Parker is making as a driver; he is starting to grasp our European concepts of racing like race craft and driving style. If you want to be at the front you have to learn this. I expect a lot of Parker in races to come; I hope he can just keep learning at the pace he is, and not lose his focus on where we need to be and that is on top of the podium.”
“The WSK Masters Sarno was definitely Parkers best race. He made vast improvements to all aspects of his racing. His race craft in the Final was very good, the best I’ve seen out of Parker since his arrival to Europe. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but now it’s more the little things. It’s not like we’re missing a mass amount of time with Parker, he is naturally fast, but it’s the little mistakes that take time to solve. It is tough for Parker coming from North American competition where a couple mistakes don’t matter, to European competition where a couple little mistakes is the difference from winning the race and taking a out of top five placing. Parker has handled the change very well. But we are always pushing him; we want to win of coarse. We are keeping him focused here in Italy, and it is paying off. We are seeing the improvements that we like to see, but like I said we need more. I think by the time of the next WSK Euro race Parker should have what it takes to take a win home for Energy Corse in the KFJ Category. Only time will tell though.”