12 Sep 2016
MORRIS ENDS MAIDEN BRITISH GT SEASON THIRD IN CHAMPIONSHIP
• Hard-earned P3 finish for MSA Team UK driver Morris in final round
• Marford racer caps superb maiden GT season with sixth podium
• Morris and Parfitt Jnr celebrate coveted top three in championship
Bentley Continental GT3 racer Seb Morris secured more podium silverware during the final race of the 2016 British GT Championship at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 11th September, with a top three finish in round nine of the season securing third place in the driver standings.
As a result of the third place race finish in the 120-minute title decider, the 20-year-old MSA Team UK driver, and Team Parker Racing team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr, ended their first season together just 4.5 points shy of the Vice-Champion’s position in the headline GT3 championship. Additionally, the duo ended the campaign third in the Pro-Am standings with Team Parker third in the entrant battle.
It really has been a memorable and extremely successful maiden season in GT endurance racing for the Welshman, chalking-up one race victory, five other podiums, four pole positions and delivering searing pace throughout, acknowledged by the new lap record set at Oulton Park earlier in the year.
“We’ve done alright haven’t we?”, said Marford-based Seb, “Unfortunately, we didn’t perform well enough overall during the last two rounds to really challenge for the title but it’s really nice to be top three in my first season. Our driver pairing has been strong, Rick has done a great job, the team has been strong and we’ve all worked together very well indeed.
“I’m happy with my first season in GT racing, especially after a difficult year in 2015 [in GP3 Series] and it’s kind of nice to feel disappointed with third in the championship. The main aim, if we’re back doing this next year, is not to make any silly errors. Rick and I made one each during the year and, ultimately, they cost us the championship win in my view. Third is still great though, I’ll take that!”
Parfitt Jnr started the 120-minute contest from fifth on the grid and maintained position on the run to Redgate, before slicing through into fourth on the exit. Instantly pressuring the Lamborghini of Jon Minshaw, racing then fell under the Safety Car on lap three as a result of a lap one incident.
The action got back underway on lap five and Parfitt Jnr continued to run closely behind the podium battle, while building an ever-increasing gap to the pack behind. By lap eight, only two seconds covered the lead four contenders and the Bentley moved ever closer as they negotiated GT4 traffic.
Posting the fastest lap of the race at that point on lap 22, Parfitt Jnr stayed in fourth but then inherited third a lap later following an excursion for Minshaw. After the pit-stop window opened at the 50-minute mark, he stayed on track and pitted at the end of lap 34 from an elevated second.
Seb entered the race with 64 minutes on the clock in fourth place initially, before then moving back into third when Andrew Howard’s Aston Martin served its stop from the inherited lead. Within four seconds of the second placed Aston of Jonny Adam, the gap increased to just over six seconds but Seb then got the gap back down to a fairly constant five seconds into the final 45 minutes of racing.
With 50 laps in total in the book, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star continued to edge nearer to Adam and he reduced the gap to 3.8 seconds into lap 56, and then little more than three seconds with around half an hour still to go.
Into the penultimate lap of the race, the Welshman had cut the deficit to just two seconds which was the closest he had been to Adam since taking over the No.31 Bentley Continental at the halfway point. In the end, on lap 77, Seb was just 2.5 seconds adrift of second place to take his sixth GT podium, ending the season how he and Parfitt Jnr started it – on the championship rostrum.
While British GT has now concluded, Seb still has a chance of winning the Sunoco Whelen Challenge – a contest grading driver performance over a number of categories and carrying a fully-funded prize drive in next year’s Daytona 24 Hour Race. Currently, Seb holds the points lead and he can only be beaten by Marco Cencetti in the Radical Euromasters which has six races remaining in its season.
Final 2016 British GT Championship GT3 Driver Standings:
3rd Seb Morris & Rick Parfitt Jnr, 143pts
Final 2016 British GT Championship Pro-Am GT3 Driver Standings:
3rd Seb Morris & Rick Parfitt Jnr, 144.5pts
Final 2016 British GT Championship GT3 Team Standings:
3rd Team Parker Racing, 143pts