31 Aug Bentley driver thoroughly enjoys Suzuka 10 hrs debut
• Pro GT racer Seb Morris enjoys ‘incredible experience’ at Suzuka
• Chester driver thanks Bentley Team M-Sport for second factory outing
• Unfortunate early-race issue prevents podium charge for No.108 entry
• Squad’s pace proven with fastest lap in big Far East endurance race
Bentley Continental GT3 driver Seb Morris delivered another very strong account of himself with the marque’s official factory team during the prestigious Suzuka 10 Hours over the weekend, 24th/25th August, on his first ever visit to the world-famous Japanese circuit.
Competing with Bentley Team M-Sport alongside fellow ‘works’ drivers Andy Soucek and Alex Buncombe, the outing marked the second as a full ‘pro’ with the manufacturer for Chester-based Morris and he immediately confirmed his abilities during practice and qualifying.
Unfortunately, though, an issue with the No.108 car during the second hour of Sunday’s race required a pit visit which ultimately cost the squad half an hour and ended any chance of challenging for the podium. One crumb of comfort for the entry, however, was the fastest lap of the race.
“This weekend has been another incredible experience, I was delighted to be back with Bentley Team M-Sport and pleased with the job I did both in qualifying and the race”, said Morris, “Having never been to Suzuka before, I was straight on the pace and my race stint times were good.
“Qualifying went well to start from inside the top 10 but unfortunately we had an issue fairly early in the race which cost us 30 minutes in the pits, so any hope of fighting for the podium and points was long gone by then. The team did a great job to get us back out and we showed incredible pace, our car taking away the fastest lap of the race. I’m looking forward to being back with the team soon.”
Confirmed as part of the No.108 line-up just over a week ago, Morris was originally slated to partner Soucek and Maxime Soulet but the latter had to miss the trip to Japan due to the expected birth of his child. Therefore, British racer Buncombe replaced Soulet in the squad’s entry.
After making strong progress during the official practice sessions, while learning the intricacies of the unique Suzuka track, British Racing Drivers’ Club ‘Superstar’ and Motorsport UK ‘Team UK’ driver Morris headed into qualifying on Saturday with confidence high.
Buncombe took the first session, Soucek the second and Morris the third and final run and with their best times combined the trio were 15th on the timesheets from the 36-car field. Progressing into the top 20 ‘Pole Shoot-Out’ as a result, Soucek then went on to deliver 10th on the grid in that session just 0.8 seconds shy of pole position.
Buncombe started Sunday’s big race and ran just outside the top 10 during the first half hour but midway through the second hour a developing issue with the Bentley Continental threatened to derail the realistic bid for a strong finish.
Losing 30 minutes in the pits as a result, while the team worked feverishly to get the No.108 Bentley repaired, Morris, Soucek and Buncombe showcased great pace during the remainder of the 10 hour encounter and they were ultimately classified in 28th position – happy to overcome the earlier problems and take the chequered flag with speed a match for the podium finishers.
Morris’ next scheduled outing is a return to Bentley customer team JRM for the final round of the British GT Championship season on Sunday, 15th September, at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit.