13 Jun 2016
THIRD POLE POSITION OF SEASON FOR BRITISH GT ROOKIE MORRIS
Seb Morris departed Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 12th June, delighted with his pace but somewhat perplexed by the outcome of round five of the British GT Championship, after missing out on the fourth podium finish of his maiden season in endurance racing.
Producing expectedly strong performances throughout the fourth weekend of the campaign, the Marford 20-year-old and team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr secured their third pole position of the year in the No.31 Bentley Continental GT3 with an outstanding showing in qualifying.
Unfortunately, though, the Team Parker Racing entry was forced out of podium contention early in the second half of the three-hour race when it was pitched off the circuit, while running among backmarkers, and the resulting trip across the grass caused race-ending damage.
Even so, the team-mates still ended the event in the series top four and, notably, two of their main rivals for the British GT crown also failed to finish the race. With three events remaining on the 2016 calendar, there is a huge amount to play for next time out at Spa-Francorchamps in July.
“It was fantastic to get pole again, and more points for the Sunoco Whelen Challenge, and the race wasn’t going too badly”, said MSA Team UK driver Seb, “We were in third and just about with second when I caught a wet patch as I was trying to lap a GT4 car. I had a massive tank-slapper, so bailed out of the corner, but it sent me across a little strip of grass and that sent me flying in the air.
“As soon as the car came back down it was a massive hit and I knew we had big problems, the car was vibrating and the engine temperature went through the roof. We have got the consolation, though, of the first two ahead of us in the championship not finishing either so we’ve got four races left to chase them down. We just need to look ahead to Spa now and see what we can do there.”
Fastest in testing on Friday, 10th June, the duo lapped in the top three in opening practice on Saturday, 11th June, and then eighth during the second run. In qualifying, Parfitt Jnr took provisional pole on his first flying lap in the ‘Am’ session with a lap of 2m02.754 seconds.
Seb got into the driving seat for the subsequent 10-minute ‘Pro’ session and produced a magnificent effort of 2m00.082 seconds to superbly see off the threat of vastly experienced international racer Alexander Sims by 0.071 seconds.
Despite an unfortunate excursion in raceday warm-up for Parfitt Jnr, the Bentley was repaired in time for the big race which officials chose to start behind the Safety Car as a result of earlier rain leading to a very wet track surface.
Parfitt Jnr took the opening stint and after two laps under caution the cars were unleashed at full racing speed. Although leading away initially, the Bentley had slipped to ninth before it was handed over to Seb at the end of lap 13 when the Safety Car was back on track after an incident.
At the resumption of racing with one hour and 55 minutes left on the clock, Seb held sixth place and made a sensational re-start – judging it perfectly to pass Marco Attard’s Ferrari 488 for fifth. Going on to also pass the title rival Lamborghini of Liam Griffin, he duly moved into the podium placings on lap 25 and set his sights on Ross Gunn’s Aston Martin.
By the start of lap 34, the Welshman was just 0.6 seconds shy of second place but he then encountered some backmarkers which needed to be cleared first. As he searched for a way past a slower GT4 car onto Wellington Straight, the Bentley caught a damp patch and after a wild ride across the grass Seb was forced to retire with damage with around one hour and 20 minutes to go.
“In hindsight, I should’ve maybe waited a bit on some moves on the GT4 cars – that’s something I’ve learnt for the longer races in the future”, reflected Seb, “We showed again how quick we are though this weekend, how good the Bentley is, so there are plenty of positives to take away.”
Round six of the British GT season, the sole overseas event at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, will take place on Saturday, 9th July. The race will be contested over a two-hour duration.
2016 British GT Championship GT3 Driver Standings (after Rd5):
4th Seb Morris & Rick Parfitt Jnr, 68.5pts
2016 British GT Championship Pro-Am GT3 Driver Standings (after Rd5):
5th Seb Morris & Rick Parfitt Jnr, 70pts
2016 British GT Championship GT3 Team Standings (after Rd5):
3rd Team Parker Racing, 68.5pts