16 Jul 2016
MORRIS WITHIN A FRACTION OF SECOND BRITISH GT VICTORY WITH FOURTH PODIUM OF SEASON AT SPA
• Second place for Bentley Continental driver Morris at Spa
• Perfectly judged lap earns MSA Team UK, BRDC Rising Star racer fourth British GT pole
• Morris and team-mate Parfitt Jnr climb back into series top three
Bentley Continental GT3 driver Seb Morris raced to his and Team Parker Racing’s fourth podium of the British GT Championship season at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium in Saturday, 9th July, with an excellent second place finish – a mere 0.6 seconds shy of victory after two hours of action.
Following on from an exceptionally well judged lap in qualifying, which secured the Marford driver’s fourth pole position of his maiden campaign in GT racing, he took the second stint of the 120-minute contest and delivered a customarily superb performance.
In third place after the mid-race driver change pit-stops had played out, 20-year-old Seb obliterated a 12 second gap to the lead pairing in next to no time. After moving up into second position, he was tantalisingly close to another win after a real grandstand finish to the race.
“I was pretty happy with my stint, closing down a 12 second gap to where we were at the finish was good going – and we finished ahead of our main championship rivals which is the most important thing”, commented the MSA Team UK driver, “Overall it’s been a good, trouble-free weekend and hopefully we’ve started the ball rolling again with this result and the championship closing up.”
Beginning the British GT weekend in confident mood after a superb timesheet-topping performance at Spa a few days earlier, when he made a guest appearance in Team Parker’s Blancpain Endurance Cup car during the official test for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, Seb delivered once again.
Lapping fastest in a truncated opening practice session on Friday, 8th July, the Welshman went on to deliver a sensational, and extremely well timed, lap in qualifying to secure his fourth pole position of the season.
After team-mate Parfitt Jnr set the seventh best lap in the ‘Am’ qualification period, an effort of 2m23.914 seconds, Seb timed his run in the ‘Pro’ session to perfection to set a time of 2m18.782 seconds just before rainfall arrived and red flags were shown. On combined times, the No.31 Bentley claimed pole just 0.042 seconds clear of its closest opponent.
Parfitt Jnr took the opening stint of Saturday’s two-hour race but slipped back to third place on a dramatic first lap, and then stayed in the podium placings to lap seven when edged back to fourth. During the remainder of his stint Parfitt Jnr maintained his top four spot and he pitted on lap 21, soon after the driver-change pit stop window opened, to hand the Bentley over to Seb.
Joining the race with just over 65 minutes to go, when the order settled after the final pit-stops were taken Seb held third place. Reducing the significant gap of 12 seconds to Jon Barnes’ Aston Martin to absolutely nothing inside just four laps, the BRDC Rising Star set about challenging for second place.
After Barnes got ahead of Rolf Ineichen on lap 29, Seb was delayed behind the Lamborghini for some time but managed to make the breakthrough on lap 32 to climb into the top two. Ineichen’s defence against Seb enabled Barnes to open a five second advantage at the front so, as soon as the Team Parker Racing driver managed to pass for second, he had to push to close down Barnes once more.
Within five laps he halved the deficit from more than five seconds to 2.6 seconds but through traffic the gap then fluctuated. By lap 42, with just over 15 minutes remaining in the race, Seb had closed to within only 0.7 seconds of Barnes but traffic again played a part to the finish.
The lead gap opened to 1.5 seconds but the No.31 Bentley moved back to within 0.6 seconds of the Aston Martin at the chequered flag after two hours of superb action. Seb also posted the second fastest lap, a time of 2m22.033 seconds just 0.2 seconds of the quickest of all, and he and Parfitt Jnr have moved to within only two points of the championship top two and 10.5 of the series lead.
There is now a four week break from British GT action with the last double-header of the season, rounds seven and eight, taking place over the weekend 6th/7th August at Snetterton in Norfolk.
2016 British GT Championship GT3 Driver Standings (after Rd6):
3rd Seb Morris & Rick Parfitt Jnr, 95.5pts
2016 British GT Championship Pro-Am GT3 Driver Standings (after Rd6):
3rd Seb Morris & Rick Parfitt Jnr, 97pts
2016 British GT Championship GT3 Team Standings (after Rd6):
3rd Team Parker Racing, 95.5pts