Seb Morris and JRM team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr remain third in the British GT Championship driver standings following the second event of the 2019 season at Snetterton on Sunday, 19th May, despite experiencing something of a luckless weekend at the Norfolk track.
Chester-based driver Morris was on course to secure their second podium of the campaign during round three on Sunday morning, with the duo having started 10th, but contact on the final lap of the 60-minute contest resulted in damage to the No.31 Bentley and a slip to fifth on the drag to the line.
Round four later in the day proved even more vexing for the 23-year-old and his team-mate when an unfortunate spin for Parfitt Jnr, while pushing for the podium, led to heavy contact with the barriers and, although rejoining, an unrelated late-race puncture dropped the duo out of the top 10.
Even though missing out on more silverware, Morris was more than satisfied with his weekend’s work behind the wheel – and especially with the Bentley Continental carrying 50kg of additional weight, compared to the opposition, under the category’s Balance of Performance rulings.
“While the results this weekend weren’t what we wanted, or deserved, from my personal point of view I’m very happy with the performance I delivered”, said Welshman Morris, “I’ve been putting a lot of effort into my driving lately, working closely with the BRDC Superstars, and getting fitter and much better mentally.
“I was very happy to race so well in the first race, passing guys like Rob Bell and Jonny Adam even with the Bentley carrying 50kg extra. I feel I’m driving as well as I ever have, and in my qualifying session it was one of the best laps I’ve done in British GT.”
Starting off with the sixth fastest time from the two practice sessions on Saturday, 18th May, a best lap of 1m49.192 seconds coming in the quicker second run, in qualifying Parfitt Jnr was 10th fastest in the ‘Am’ session to set the grid for round three while Morris produced an improved fourth in the ‘Pro’ session for round four – a time of 1m47.658 seconds (99.27mph).
Parfitt Jnr, of course, began the first of Sunday’s races and after a great start he moved through into seventh before taking sixth on lap seven and fifth on the subsequent tour due to problems for a couple of rivals. Staying in fifth until the driver-change pit stop on lap 11, Morris got behind the wheel and emerged into the race with around 36 minutes to run in seventh place.
When a mechanical drama struck the race-leading BMW on lap 17, Morris moved up into the top six and he then claimed fifth before applying increasing pressure to the Aston Martin of Jonny Adam. As the battle from second to fifth intensified, Morris left no stone unturned in his attempts to progress.
Taking fourth from Rob Bell’s McLaren on lap 23, as the race neared its conclusion a podium finish became increasingly possible for the JRM Bentley. As Morris applied maximum pressure to Adam, when the latter attempted a pass for second on the penultimate lap it gave Morris the chance he wanted to slice past at Williams to grab third.
Although Adam tried to hit back into the Esses the JRM driver held his ground to seal third – but more drama was to follow. On the last lap, a concertina involving GT3 and GT4 class cars out of the Bomb Hole resulted in heavy contact to the rear of the sandwiched Bentley which ripped away the intercooler pipe. Sapping all power from the car, on the run to the line Morris slipped to fifth.
“We really deserved a podium from race one, it was a tough battle with Jonny [Adam] but we both raced hard and fair”, reflected BRDC Superstar and Motorsport UK ‘Team UK’ driver Morris, “Third was in the bag but out of the Bomb Hole on the last lap, Ryan [Ratcliffe] went off from second and then came back on which made a GT4 car slam on the brakes.
“I had to come to a standstill and a car smashed into the back of me, the contact was so heavy it ripped away the intercooler pipe and that’s why I had no power at all coming out of the chicane. It’s a shame to miss the podium as everyone at the team had done a great job.”
In round four later in the day, Morris took the opening stint and lapped impressively to maintain position throughout the first half hour of action. With little to choose between the lead contenders, Morris performed well to move over three seconds clear of the McLaren of Rob Bell before pitting at the end of lap 16 to hand the car over to Parfitt Jnr.
Joining the track with around 25 minutes to go, Parfitt Jnr was in fifth initially and then took fourth on lap 20 before closing up behind the top three. Into the chicane on lap 23, though, a spin into the braking zone pitched the Bentley off the track and into the barriers. Although continuing, the left rear puncture late-on dropped Parfitt Jnr to 12th overall and 10th in the Pro-Am class.
Round five of the British GT season, the three-hour ‘Silverstone 500’ at the home of the British Grand Prix, will take place on Sunday, 9th June. Before then, Morris will be back in action in the Blancpain Endurance Cup at Paul Ricard in France one week earlier on Saturday, 1st June.
2019 British GT Championship Standings (after Rd4)
3rd Seb Morris/Rick Parfitt Jnr, 37pts
2019 British GT Championship ‘Pro-Am’ Standings (after Rd4)
3rd Seb Morris/Rick Parfitt Jnr, 42pts