21 Apr 2017
STRONG POINTS HAUL FOR MORRIS & PARFITT AT RAIN HIT OULTON PARK
• Team Parker Racing duo fourth in championship after Rds1&2
• Morris enters record books with fastest ever Oulton Park GT3 lap
• Faultless double pole position for Bentley Continental team-mates
• Best result of fourth position in dramatic rain affected first race
Bentley Continental GT3 racer Seb Morris experienced a mixed opening event of the new British GT Championship season at Oulton Park over Easter weekend, a best finish of fourth place the headline result after two dramatic one-hour races at the Cheshire venue.
Beginning the race meeting with a record-breaking performance in qualifying on Saturday, 15th April, the ‘Pro’ driver from Marford set the fastest ever lap for a GT3 car around Oulton’s 2.7-mile International Circuit to secure a memorable pole position for round two. Earlier, team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr had claimed the grid-topping slot for round one with a terrific effort in the ‘Am’ session.
Unfortunately, neither of the one-hour races on Easter Monday, 17th April, worked in their favour and the Team Parker Racing duo had to settle for fourth place in the rain-affected opening encounter, a mere 0.6 seconds shy of the podium, and fifth in race two.
Concluding the championship curtain-raiser fourth in the overall standings and fourth in the Pro-Am battle, the duo will head to Rockingham in Northamptonshire two weeks from now determined to secure their first silverware of the campaign.
“It wasn’t a bad weekend really, as we’ve said before if you finish fourth in every race you’ll probably win the championship so we’re happy enough with the results this weekend – and it was obviously fantastic to take both poles”, said Morris, “We could’ve won the first race had it been dry, we had the car to do that, but when it rained we knew we just had to take as many points as we could.
“In the second one, we had a problem with the turbo at the start which compromised my getaway, without that it would’ve been a different story but it is what it is. In British GT, if one thing goes wrong then everything tends to and that’s what happened in race two unfortunately.”
Parfitt Jnr, who took pole for the wet season-opener with a time of 1m34.932 seconds (102.08mph), 0.4 seconds better than his closest challenger, was beaten off the line at the start but remained there to the driver-change stop at the halfway point.
When the race order settled, Morris held second place but began to come under pressure from the quicker Lamborghini and Aston Martin behind. Although edged back to fourth place, during the latter stages of the race as the track dried the Bentley was able to play to its strengths and Morris closed up to within just a few tenths of a second of the podium at the chequered flag.
Beginning round two from pole, achieved with his record 1m32.993 seconds (104.21mph) lap time in second qualifying – 0.6 seconds beneath his own benchmark from 2016, the BRDC Superstar and MSA Team UK driver encountered an issue with the turbo at the start which led to a slip to third.
Battling his way back into second on lap two into Hislops, resulting contact led to a drive-through penalty. Serving it straight away and emerging in seventh place, Morris started to undo the damage by producing fastest lap pace and he charged into fourth before the driver-change.
Parfitt Jnr joined the contest in fifth place and after an accident involving two other GT3 contenders with around 15 minutes to go, the resulting Safety Car looked set to aid the Bentley racer’s cause. Due to the barrier damage caused by the incident, though, the race was curtailed early under Safety Car conditions so the No.31 entry had to settle for fifth.
“Things didn’t go to plan for us in the end, but it could have been worse this weekend”, added Morris, “We’re looking forward to Rockingham now and making amends there, we’ll have no success penalty so it should be a strong weekend for us.”
Rockingham in Northamptonshire is the next stop on the British GT schedule for round three of the season, the first two-hour race of 2017, over the weekend 29th/30th April.
2017 British GT Championship Driver Standings
4th Seb Morris & Rick Parfitt Jnr, 22pts
2017 British GT Championship Pro-Am Standings
4th Seb Morris & Rick Parfitt Jnr, 22pts
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