• Frustration for Morris, Smith and Pierce at Silverstone GP
• Early retirement for Team Parker Bentley in 3hr encounter
• Fractured sump in first half hour ends Pro-Am victory bid
• Pace clear to see in qualifying with P2 in class for ‘home’ event
Podium challenging Blancpain Endurance Cup racer Seb Morris encountered major disappointment during round two of the season at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 20th May, when the No.31 Bentley Continental had to be retired from the race – less than 30 minutes into the contest.
Welsh racer Morris, who was scheduled to take the final stint of the three-hour encounter, had been confident of mounting a serious bid for more podium silverware at his ‘home’ event but after the car’s sump fractured when team-mate Derek Pierce was at the wheel, their race was run.
Everything had looked incredibly positive for the Team Parker Racing entry. From second position on the Pro-Am grid, Pierce made a great start to the race and quickly moved into the class lead. Looking very comfortable at the front of Pro-Am, he then had to pit the car at around the 25-minute mark with oil leaking from the underside of the engine.
After checking over the Bentley in the pits, the extent of the mechanical damage due to kerb usage was clear to see and, as such, the car had to be retired – a bitterly disappointing, and all too early, conclusion to the weekend for Morris, Pierce and fellow Team Parker racer Rob Smith.
“It’s very disappointing, pace wise we were definitely on for a win and I was really looking forward to wringing the car’s neck in my stint at the end on some fresher tyres”, said 22-year-old MSA Team UK driver and BRDC Superstar Morris, “It’s always frustrating when you have so many friends and family along to a race and this sort of thing happens, and especially as we were looking very strong.
“Everything was going to plan, but then it all came crashing down pretty quickly. It’s just one of those things, the sump fractured at Turn One on the kerb and oil was going everywhere – something broke internally and that was it. The car was great at Paul Ricard when we tested there, so I’m really looking forward to the next round now.”
Arriving at Silverstone second in the Pro-Am standings after a superb runner-up finish at Monza in Italy during round one last month, Chester-based Morris eyed more of the same for his, and the team’s, home race and everything started well in practice and Pre-Qualifying.
Going on to deliver a highly impressive showing in final qualifying on Sunday morning at a warm and sunny Silverstone, Morris, Smith and Pierce combined to secure second in Pro-Am with their best average time.
Pierce took the first of the three sessions which he ended with a time of 1m58.607 seconds to hold Pro-Am pole at that point. Smith took over the No.31 Bentley Continental for session two and was second quickest with a lap of 1m58.894 seconds before Morris climbed behind the wheel for the third and final session, lapping with a fantastic time of 1m57.340 seconds.
Everything looked set for a very strong challenge in the race and Pierce certainly delivered on the promise during the first 25 minutes of the three-hour contest. With a podium finish there for the taking, and the possibility of challenging for a maiden Pro-Am win, the squad now turns its intention to fighting back strongly a fortnight from now during round three.
Paul Ricard in southern France will host the next instalment of Blancpain Endurance Cup action, the annual six-hour ‘into the night’ race, on Saturday, 2nd June.