GT champion Parfitt to make BTCC switch
Rick Parfitt Jnr will make his BTCC debut this summer, joining the EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars’ team alongside Tom Ingram, Chris Smiley and Jack Butel.
The son of late Status Quo singer and guitarist Rick Parfitt was a successful karter in his early years, before following in his famous father’s footsteps by launching a career in the music industry with his group – The RPJ Band – and becoming firmly established as one of the top events bands in the world.
Having long held a passion for motorsport, Parfitt Jr jumped at the opportunity to return to the track when he was invited to take part in the Celebrity Challenge race during the 2010 running of the Silverstone Classic – which he promptly won, having qualified on pole position.
That reignited the desire to compete and led to Rick re-launching his racing career in 2011 with a move into the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, which in turn opened the door to graduation to the British GT Championship.
The Surrey racer went on to lift the GT4 title in 2013, before becoming the first – and so far only – driver to add the overall GT3 Championship crown to his CV, securing the latter at the wheel of a Bentley Continental GT in 2017.
That success saw Parfitt Jr recognised for his performances on-track by the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) whilst, as winner of the Sunoco 240 Challenge, he was given the chance to race on the support bill to the famous 24 Hours of Daytona.
Having taken the decision to sit out the 2020 season in order to undergo surgery for Crohn’s disease, Parfitt Jr joins Suffolk-based EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars in the best physical shape of his career, and with a firm desire to entertain BTCC fans on-track in the same way he entertains on the stage.
Rick will use his programme this year to raise awareness of Crohn's disease and Colitis, and show that the illness shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to anyone in achieving their dreams.
"I’m massively excited about the prospect of moving into the BTCC with EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars,” said Parfitt Jr.
“When I was younger, I was a huge fan of the series, so it’s amazing to now have the opportunity be part of the grid myself. It’s a chance to live the dream.
"After undergoing major surgery for my Crohn’s disease in early 2020, the last 12 months have provided me with a chance to get myself in better physical shape than ever before, and I hope to use this season to show people in a similar position to me that Crohn’s shouldn’t be a barrier towards doing anything that they want to do in life.
"Throughout my career in the music industry, I have loved the opportunity to go out and entertain people, and entertainment is what the BTCC is all about. There is so much energy and buzz around the series and even before doing this deal, the reaction from fans to the possibility of me racing has been fantastic. I can’t wait to be part of it all and to help put on a show.
"In EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars, I have a good team around me and in Tom Ingram inparticular, I have a team-mate who I can learn a massive amount from. There is no point entering a series like this thinking it will be for a single year, so I want to learn as much as I can this season with an eye on then pushing for the Jack Sears Trophy in 2022.
"I’m thrilled that we have been able to conclude a deal with Rick for 2021, as he was the person who I really wanted in the car to complete our new-look driver line-up,” added team owner Justina Williams.
"Alongside Tom Ingram, Chris Smiley and Jack Butel, we now have four drivers that I feel give us a fantastic chance to make the season ahead a success both on and off the track.
"Rick’s performances in the British GT Championship in recent years have been hugely impressive, particularly when you consider the competitive nature of the field. I’m looking forward to seeing him develop as a touring car driver this year, and am confident that he will be able to make his mark on the BTCC as the season goes on."As a born entertainer, I have no doubt in my mind that Rick is going to be a hugely popular addition to the team and to the series, and hopefully this will be the start of a long and successful partnership together."