02 May 2016
HARD-FOUGHT TOP 10 FINISH FOR MORRIS AND PARFITT JNR AFTER DRAMATIC ROCKINGHAM WEEKEND
• British GT racer Morris concludes Rd2 of season fourth in standings
• MSA Team UK driver and Team Parker Racing battle litany of dramas
• Bentley Continental duo forced to settle for top 10 despite winning pace
Round two of the British GT Championship season proved a hugely frustrating affair for Seb Morris on Sunday, 1st May, when the MSA Team UK driver and team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr had to settle for a top 10 finish after a weekend which threw all manner of problems at the Team Parker Racing entry.
Heading into the second race of the season at Rockingham’s International Super Sportscar Circuit, 20-year-old Seb held realistic hopes of adding more podium success to the runner-up spot achieved on his British GT debut at Brands Hatch.
Instead, though, the Marford driver had to bounce back from a variety of issues – starting with an excursion in practice for Parfitt Jnr, which kept the duo out of qualifying due to a badly damaged car, and then two in-race penalties. Through it all, though, Seb still kept his points-scoring run intact.
“It was a disappointing race, but it all started with the big shunt in first practice”, said Seb, “The guys at Team Parker did a great job to put the car back together and give us a car for raceday, but it obviously compromised what we might have been able to do and we both made some mistakes in the race.
“Unfortunately Rick had a penalty and then I picked one up when a GT4 car braked to let me by at the Safety Car re-start late in the race. It was a disastrous race to be honest, but we still showed what the car was capable of, even after such a big hit on Saturday, and at least got into the points.”
Beginning the second weekend of the season strongly with a top five time in opening practice on Saturday, 30th April, the session was also filled with major disappointment as a result of Parfitt Jnr’s collision with the barriers after hitting a patch of oil.
With the chassis sustaining a hefty hit, and the bodywork requiring plenty of attention too, the necessary repairs forced the duo to miss second practice and, importantly, qualifying to leave a huge amount to do on Sunday to climb through from the back of the GT3 grid. Thanks to sterling work from Team Parker, though, the No.31 Bentley Continental was ready for Sunday’s morning warm-up.
In the race, Parfitt Jnr made an excellent start and powered through into eighth on lap one but on lap three at Brook Chicane, he was pitched into a spin. Dropping to 10th place, he fought back through and climbed into the top four but on lap 24 at Deene a bid for third didn’t work out and he instead ran deep at the hairpin – recovering in fifth.
He then incurred a stop-go penalty, after a separate incident with a GT4 class car, which was served prior to making the driver-change stop to hand the Bentley over to Seb. Adding to the misfortune, there was an issue getting away from the stop-go penalty so team personnel had to run to the end of the pitlane to assist Parfitt Jnr, adding a further delay of around half a minute.
When Seb entered the race with 62 minutes left on the clock he was 11th in GT3 and worked hard to recover as much ground as possible. The Welshman was only on track for six minutes before the Safety Car was required but at the re-start he reeled off some seriously impressive lap times.
Striving to overcome the litany of problems which befell the team in the opening hour, he circulated at up to two seconds per lap quicker than the 10th placed BMW. Moving closer to the points-paying positions, after another brief Safety Car intervention with just over 15 minutes to go Seb was able to break into the top 10 with ease after a clean and decisive move into Deene Hairpin.
Lapping quicker than the podium contending Lamborghinis of Adam Carroll and Phil Keen, Seb was then served with a frustrating drive-through penalty after being adjudged to have edged ahead of a GT4 car just prior to the re-start. Dropping back to 11th as a consequence, with just minutes to go he was still able to retake 10th before the finish at the two-hour mark.
Confirming the pace which could easily have delivered a second podium finish, the Bentley’s fastest lap of 1m18.519 seconds was quicker than the race-winning Aston Martin and less than 0.2 seconds shy of the best of the race. In total, it’s believed the team lost over three minutes with all incidents combined – costing an almost guaranteed podium.
Next on the British GT calendar is a visit to Oulton Park in Cheshire, Seb’s ‘home’ circuit, over Spring Bank Holiday weekend, 28th/29th/30th May.
2016 British GT Championship GT3 Driver Standings (after Rd2):
4th Seb Morris & Rick Parfitt Jnr, 28.5pts
2016 British GT Championship Pro-Am GT3 Driver Standings (after Rd2):
4th Seb Morris & Rick Parfitt Jnr, 30pts
2016 British GT Championship GT3 Team Standings (after Rd2):
4th Team Parker Racing, 28.5pts