Total 24 Hours of Spa Report. There was good news of a differing degrees coming from Spa last weekend.
Matt Parry and team-mates Lucas Ordonez and Alex Buncombe brought the Bob Neville run Nissan GT-R home in 7th place overall for some welcome points.
However the Bentley driven by Seb Morris, Derek Pierce, Rob Smith, and special guest Andy Meyrick, suffered some engine problems, which was cured after the Team Park guys traced it to a faulty fuel injector. However the car itself was wrecked after a big accident with Andy Meyrick on board! ‘ At 3.00am local time on Sunday morning, Meyrick and the No.666 Lamborghini of Jurgen Krebs were involved in a monumental accident – the severity of which led to a race stoppage for the fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup and required both drivers to be extricated from their cars.
Initially taken to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit medical centre before being transferred to nearby hospital, Meyrick and Krebs sustained a number of fractures and both remain under observation due to the high-speed nature of the extremely serious accident. Seb takes up the story ‘The only thing that matters about the weekend is Andy being as OK as he can after such a massive accident – all our thoughts are with him. It was the worst crash I’ve seen, the damage to the car was huge. Most importantly, Andy’s injuries are fortunately not critical and he should make a full recovery in four to six weeks. “I have to say a huge thank you to the boys in the team for their efforts this weekend, the accident really shook everyone up and we’re all just relieved Andy is going to be OK. Everything about the race and the weekend is secondary to what happened with him’
Total 24 Hours of Spa preveiw – Seb Morris, his usual team-mates Derek Pierce and Rob Smith, and special guest Andy Meyrick, will line up for the start in 33rd place but crucially they are 3rd in the Pro-Am class! Andy Meyrick warmed up for the contest by winning the Pro-Am class in the North European GT4 Championship last week at Spa itself! Also Sebs former team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr proved the Team Parker Racing Bentleys are at home at Spa, by taking 2nd place overall , with his now recovered team-mate Ryan Ratcliffe!
Meanwhile Matt Parry and team-mates Lucas Ordonez and Alex Buncombe will start the Bob Neville run Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 from 21st place. With points on offer throughout the race, the 24 hrs race can play a huge part in the Blancpain Championship.
Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am championship contender Seb Morris is just a week away from his maiden appearance in the world’s biggest GT3 race, the Total 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, where the Welsh star believes the No.31 Team Parker Racing squad will be a ‘force to be reckoned with’.
Getting underway on Saturday, 28th July, at the unmistakable Spa-Francorchamps, the huge twice-round-the-clock spectacular is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges in world motorsport. Heading into round four of his maiden campaign in the pan-European championship, the reigning British GT Champion and team-mates Rob Smith and Derek Pierce are third in the Pro-Am title battle, just three points shy of the runner-up spot and only 10 points adrift of the top of the table. The 24 hour race rewards points at three different junctures in the encounter, at six hours, 12 hours and at the conclusion, a consistently strong performance throughout the contest could have huge implications for the championship picture.
With Morris, Smith and Pierce already proven to be a highly competitive Pro-Am combination, their bid for Total 24 Hours of Spa success is being further boosted by the addition of experienced former Bentley ‘factory’ driver Andy Meyrick – Morris’ long-standing manager – to the line-up.
All four drivers participated in the official pre-event test day at Spa a couple of weeks ago and preparations for the blue riband Blancpain event went very well indeed, the quartet ending the day third fastest in Pro-Am and delighted with the work completed.
“I really can’t wait to be back at Spa, the 24 hour is by far the biggest GT3 race in the world and I think we’re very capable of winning Pro-Am”, said a bullish Morris, “We’re in a lucky position to be able to bring Andy [Meyrick] in, we know we’ve got two great ‘Am’ drivers in Derek and Rob and now, with another Pro driver like Andy, I think we’re a force to be reckoned with. Obviously, Andy has been there as my manager right from when I was 12 or 13 when he coached me at Pembrey in Wales when I was first looking to move-up into cars from karting. I was a lot shorter then, but I’m taller than him now! To come full circle to now be racing together in the Total 24 Hours of Spa, it’s pretty special.”
Morris of course, is no stranger to the challenges of Spa-Francorchamps having set a GT3 lap record in British GT at the track last year and in 2016 he just missed out on race victory there in British GT by a mere 0.6 seconds. During his formative career in single-seaters, he also competed at Spa in GP3 and Formula Renault.
Since the previous Blancpain round at Paul Ricard in France, Morris grabbed plenty of headlines with an unbelievable ‘super-sub’ performance at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit when he made a very unexpected return to British GT as a true last-minute stand-in for the unwell Ryan Ratcliffe. Linking back-up with former team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr, who partnered Morris to British GT title success last year, BRDC Superstar and MSA Team UK driver Morris made a 153-mile dash from his home to Silverstone, after receiving a late-morning phone call, to arrive at the track literally minutes before his stint. Remarkably, he and Parfitt Jnr secured a sensational fourth place finish in the race.
Now, all attention turns to the biggest outing of the season. Following the usual parade of race cars into Spa city centre on Wednesday, 25th July, free practice for the Total 24 Hours of Spa – which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary – will follow on Thursday, 26th July, along with pre-qualifying, qualifying and a night-time practice.
On Friday, 27th July, the Super-Pole session will take place with the 24 hour race itself getting underway at 16.30 (local time) on Saturday, 28th July.
Live online streaming of all of the qualifying sessions and the race itself will be carried on https://www.total24hours.com/live
PAUL RICARD SIX- Hours Report Seb Morris overcomes a fiery pit-stop to take 2nd place in Pro Am Class with the Team Parker Bentley Continental GT3, only 13 seconds from the top step of the Podium after 6 Hours + Matt Parry plays his part to take the RJN Nissan GTR to 5th Place overall!
Seb Morris made a very welcome, and richly deserved, return to the Pro-Am podium during round three of the Blancpain Endurance Cup season at Paul Ricard in France on Saturday, 2nd June, with a fantastic second place finish in the six-hour ‘into the night’ race. Along with team-mates Derek Pierce and Rob Smith, 22-year-old M orris produced a scintillating performance in the annual 1,000km encounter at the Le Castellet track and with their second runner-up spot of the year, and the trio climbed into third in the Pro-Am championship.
Beginning Saturday evening’s race from fifth in Pro-Am, the Team Parker Racing drivers combined to deliver a tremendous push for their maiden class victory and at the end of six pulsating hours they were just 13 seconds shy of the top step of the podium. Notably, that gap was roughly the equivalent of time lost during Morris’ pit visit halfway through his double stint during the closing stages. Due to a worrying fire, which the Team Parker crew dealt with impeccably, Morris ventured out onto track behind the class-winning Ferrari. Without the issue with the fuel rig, a victory charge was certainly on the cards.
“It was a very tough race, we had quite a few problems during it, but to come away with second is fantastic”, said Morris, “When I jumped in for my double stint, it was tough as I had to let a lot of people by, who were fighting up-front in the overall battle, but in my second stint I got some good space and lapped as quick as anyone on track.
“Unfortunately, though, we lost time in the pit-stop as the car completely set on fire! It was a pretty hair-raising moment, but the team did a great job and put the fire out quickly and also then got the fuel topped up so we could run to the end – it was a fantastic job by the guys. We lost about 13 seconds, though, and that was the gap to the Ferrari in the end so we know a win was possible. Our next is at Spa-Francorchamps in July for the annual 24 Hour race. I think Spa will be good for our Bentley, we should be strong there and we’re just waiting to hear who our fourth driver will be which is exciting. We’ll take some time to evaluate where we went wrong at Paul Ricard, improve on a few mistakes – just little, tiny things – and make sure everything is right for Spa. You need to be as faultless as possible there.”
There is now a lengthy eight-week break from Blancpain Endurance Cup action ahead of the otal 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, which will take place on 28th/29th July.
Meanwhile for Matt Parry it felt more like ‘The Brawl Ricard 6 Hours’ than the Paul Ricard 6 Hours for GT Sport Motul Team RJN Nissan, but another tenacious performance from Matt Parry and team-mates Lucas Ordonez and Alex Buncombe was finally rewarded with their first points of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup campaign in the south of France.
The trio’s number 23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 was on the receiving end of no fewer than three spin-inducing contacts in the course of the mini-marathon event, and also survived a couple of minor delays in pit-lane, to take the flag in seventh position. However, with the two cars immediately ahead of them having on-track misdemeanours converted to post-race time penalties, Parry and co were elevated to fifth on the final result sheet, securing a hat-trick of such results for the RJN Nissan combination at Ricard over the past three years.
Lucas Ordonez quickly had the Nissan moving up the order, cracking the top ten inside half an hour. However, just as the Spaniard was establishing himself as a threat to those chasing points in the early going, a touch from behind sent the Nissan spinning into the run-off at the final corner, undoing all his hard work and dropping the red machine back to 17th.
Ordonez handed over to Buncombe finally Parry knew that he would be behind the wheel for the final two stints.
Although a problem tightening his seatbelts at the handover further delayed the Welshman’s appearance, he appeared unfazed as he continued the good work – only for the second unwanted contact of the race to spin the #23 around and down the order once more. Although progress from 17th was always likely given the pace of the Nissan, the RJN team had another ace up its sleeve, having held back its ‘joker’ pit-stop – where crews are not constrained by a minimum time limit – until the closing stages. With Parry already making up ground and close to returning to the point-scoring places despite another enforced spin at turn five, the strategy paid off, confirming the Nissan in seventh spot on the road for the run to the flag.
The drama wasn’t over there, however, for Parry lost power steering in the final five laps, preventing him from chasing down the group ahead and leaving him with a tense finish as he held off a train of cars in his wake. His dogged determination was rewarded, however, not only by making it to the chequered flag but by then learning of the penalties being applied to two of the cars immediately ahead of the Nissan, promoting it to an eventual – and hard-earned – fifth place.
“There was enough drama in that race to fill a book!” Parry claimed, “The Blancpain GT Series is extremely hard-fought and that showed tonight, with close racing through the field and the winner only being determined on the final lap. cost time and positions, so it was great to come away with my first points in the series. The last few laps were quite tense as I was hanging on to my position after the power steering went, but car was amazing throughout. Fifth is a great result for the team, but there is definitely a sense that it could have been even better, possibly even a podium, had we had a clean run. However, after what we have already shown at Monza and Silverstone, this performance will give the team a lot of optimism as we head to the Spa 24 Hours next month.”
Round four of the 2018 Blancpain GT Championship Endurance Cup, the Total 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, takes place at the iconic Belgian circuit over the weekend of 26-29 July, with extensive live and highlights coverage on the Eurosport and Motorsport TV channels in the UK and www.nismo.tv online.
The 2018 Britsh Gt Championship is at Silverstone on Sunday 10th June and Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jnr will be hoping to score a good result to give their 2018 points score a big boost. (edited by Rob Allender.)
International Preveiw! edited by Rob Allender
Ben Hingeley from Abergele will be in Hungary for the latest round of the European F3 Championship on the Hungaroring, having scored a Rookie podium and a 4th place overall on the unforgiving streets of the Pau circuit. https://www.fiaf3europe.com/
Seb Morris and Matt Parry will be at Paul Ricard in Southern France for the latest round in the 2018 Blancpain Enduro series, the 1000 Km 6 hour Day/Night race. Seb Morris didn’t even get to race at Silverstone after a silly incident put the Team Parker Bentley out, when Derek Peirce hopped a kerb and cracked the sump!
Matt Parry did at least race but after a mix up in practice, the RJN Nissan, started in 40th , instead of 18th! At least Matt and his teammates were able to put on a sparkling display on thier way to an eventual 16th place. Hopefully if the teams can eliminate the errors they might be both on for some better results.
As with all Major Series there are lots of live action on BT Sport or Motors Tv
Andy Meyrick and Jake Rattenbury are in action in Europe soon!
Blancpain Endurance Cup – Silverstone race report by Rob & Marion Allender
Matt makes a big impression in the big Nissan , but Seb sits out the race as the Bentley fails after only 8 laps!
The 2nd round of the prestigious 2018 Blancpain Endurance Cup took place on the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday 20th May, where Welsh racers Seb Morris & Matt Parry tried to mount the strongest possible challenge for a class victory in the pan-European championship. With 52 cars it was a packed grid and both the Welsh drivers Matt Smith and Seb Morris needed to be at their best to make a mark in their ‘home’ race.
However Parry was the first to try’ and he was 15th in his session but once his times were added to the times of his team-mates, Alex Buncombe and Lucas Ordondes it gave them 18th place on the grid. Team owner Bob Neville, was realistic ‘ Being in the top 20 is good, by we expected much more’
Meanwhile Seb Morris and his team-mates were unable to break into the top 20 and the Bentley would start in 25th place! More importantly they were 2nd in the Pro-Am Class, only 0.787 behind the Class leading, Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488! Jules Westwood the Bentley cars engineer confirmed, ‘We are in with a chance of taking the Pro-Am Class win! Seb wasn’t able to get a quick time, due to the traffic but his team-mates were quick in their sessions, so it looks good!’ Indeed when the Rinaldi Ferrari pulled out after only 3 laps it looking good as the Team Parker car took over the lead in the Pro-Am Class, with the Class Win in their sights! However it all turned sour after only 8 laps, when the Bentley drifted into the pits, after Derek Pierce had hit the kerb at Copse very hard and cracked the sump, losing all the oil, and sending the Bentley into instant retirement! This was a severe disappointment for Seb who was looking forward to putting on a show, for the large contingent of his supporters! 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. The car was great at Paul Ricard when we tested there, so I’m really looking forward to the next round now.”
There was also dis-appointment for the RJN Nissan team, which had qualified in 18th place, but were relegated to start well back, in 48th place, after being penalised for a strange offence, which meant that Lucas Ordonez’s best laps were disallowed! However the stage was set for a great comeback and with Alex Buncombe at the wheel for the first stint, the car rose to 26th when Matt took over! Pushing as hard as he could, and passing car after car, and despite having to re-pass one of his victims, he handed over to Lucas with the car in 20th place! Ordonez continued the good work and took the cheqeured flag in 16th place, but agonisingly outside the points, which start at 10th ! But for the penalty, a very big result would have undoubtedly been on the cards. “Despite starting where we did, we were always optimistic of a good run,” Matt confirmed, “There was a lot of performance in the car from the start of the weekend, and Alex really underlined that in the opening stint. I’m a little frustrated with the mistake I made trying to pass one of the Lamborghinis at turn nine, but I don’t think it made much difference to our overall result, and Lucas was still able to bring the car home well inside the top 20. The number 23 Nissan had great pace throughout my run and I enjoyed being able to chase down the cars in front of me, so we know what it is capable of in the remaining rounds, It’s up to us now to piece together the perfect weekend.”
Round three of the 2018 Blancpain GT Championship Endurance Cup takes place at Circuit Paul Ricard (FRA), in Southern France for the annual six-hour ‘into the night’ race, on Saturday, 2nd June with extensive live and highlights coverage on the Eurosport and Motorsport TV channels in the UK.
International News! edited by Rob Allender
The 2nd round of the prestigious 2018 Blancpain Endurance Cup takes place on the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit this weekend, 19th/20th May, where Welsh racers Seb Morris & Matt Parry will be mounting the strongest possible challenge for a class victory, for their respective teams, in the pan-European championship. With 52 cars it will be a packed grid and both Matt and Seb Morris will need to be at their best to make a mark in their ‘home’ race. Matt & Seb had contrasting fortunes at Monza in Round 1 after strong qualifying performances.
Seb Morris started the event by posting the 4th fastest time in his qualifying session but with the grid position decided on the combined time of all the teams drivers, the Team Parker Bentley Continental GT3 started in 2nd in the Pro-Am class, 23rd place overall, and with teammates Derek Pierce and Rob Smith taking the first 2 stints, they were in for a good result and were contesting the Pro-Am Class with the Ferrari 488 GT3, until a slow pit-stop allowed the Ferrari to build an advantage. Morris took over the Bentley for the last hour but after passing car after car the Ferrari was just 20 secs ahead at the end of the 3hour race. Seb summed up “I think a lot of people were taken by surprise with how quick we were at Monza. Our entry into the championship was obviously quite late, we hadn’t really had much testing, and yet we came through to finish P2 in our first race which was pretty faultless. I can’t wait for the weekend, I’m more prepared than I ever have been and a lot fitter since Monza too. Silverstone is one of my favourite tracks, if not the favourite, and the nature of the circuit with the high-speed corners really does suit the Bentley. Monza was a great track for our car, but I think Silverstone can be even better for us.” Having won the British Gt race last year at a canter, Seb and the Team Parker team will be hoping for a repeat.
Matt Parry will also be hoping for a good race at Silverstone, having suffered from ill fortune in Monza. As the rest of the grid started the 3 hour race by charging into the first of Monza chicanes, Smiths car, the GT Sport Motul no. 23 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 run by Bob Nevilles team RJN, was forced to start from the pit-lane, when his teammate Alex Buncombe was hit by gearbox problems on the starting grid! Once started, the experienced Buncombe made good progress and made into the top 30 before handing over to Parry, but a fumbled pitstop and more car problems dropped them back. Parry did his best to recover, but problems dogged the car, but at least Lucas Ordonez (who raced with us in 2009, after winning the Nissan Playstation GT Academy competition)was able to bring the car to the chequered flag, albeit several laps down!
Parry commented “It’s a frustrating way to start the season, especially after the promise that our run in qualifying had shown. However, we have to remember that this is an all-new car and that there will always be teething troubles. Hopefully, we will have got most of these out of our system now, because there is certainly a lot of potential in the car’.
- Free Practice for the Blancpain Endurance Cup runners at Silverstone will take place at 10.45 on Saturday, 19th May, with Pre-Qualifying following at 15.45.
- On Sunday, 20th May, final Qualifying will begin at 09.45 with the big race itself scheduled to commence at 15.00.Live streaming of Qualifying and round two will be carried online at www.blancpain-gt-series.com/ with further coverage on digital satellite and cable channel Motorsport TV. In the UK Freesat – channel 253 – Sky – channel 447 -Virgin Media – channel 545
- Team Parker Racing
- Drivers Derek Pierce, Rob Smith, Seb Morris GBR
- Car number 31
- Bentley Continental GT3
- Pro-Am Cup after 1 Round
2nd Sebastian Morris 18 points
GT SPORT MOTUL Team RJN
Drivers Matt Parry, Lucas Ordonez, Alex Buncombe
car number 23
Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3
Stop Press- the Championship stewards have declared a result for the 2nd race, which never was! Rick n Ryan therefore scored 1 point for starting in 10th place! Full details at http://www.britishgt.com/
Q & Race report – In Qualifying Rick was 2nd fastest in his session, but in his session Ryan was 11th.Speaking after Qualifying Ryan confirmed ‘It was an awesome effort from Rick to put us on the front row for Race 1 on Monday! Mixed feelings for my Qualifying, I was getting faster and faster in the car but still not 100% confident to push on new tyres! P11 for me. Let’s see what Monday brings, as its all very tight!
Although it was dry during Qualifying, it was wet and rainy when Race-day dawned on Bank Holiday Monday! Wet weather traction is the Achilles heel in this version of the Bentley Continental GT3 car, and so it was no real surprise in the wet, morning ‘warm-up’ when Rick spun off at the Island bend! Afterwards a clearly unhappy Rick explained ‘I squeezed the throttle gently and the car did a slow spin. There was no traction control at all!’ However the front ‘splitter’ was damaged & the Team Parker mechanics worked frantically as they had only about an hour to fix the car.
Showing their superb professionalism, the car made it to the grid. Rick declared ‘I am just going to drive nice & easy and maybe we can pick up some points’ Ryan interjected ‘I told Rick to try for the lead, and then the others will be eating your spray!’ However it turned out to be not so simple as the race organizers decided to start the race behind the safety car! It set off at a pace and lead the pack around for 3 laps. However, rather than backing off on the ‘In lap’ to bunch the pack up a little, by the time the safety car headed to the pits, there was 45secs between the first and last cars, and the leading car was heading into the first corner, before Rick in the 2nd place car had even exited from Lodge corner! Rick was soon under pressure from Ian Loggie in the 2nd Team Parker Bentley who got past, but they were some both passed by the Lamborghini of Minshaw and Keen. Rick faded away before pitting for Ryan to take over. However Ryan also found ‘The Beast’ a handful in the wet, and made a big bid to stay in the points, until a slight moment dropped him back, to finish out of the points in 12th place. In the end the Aston Martin of ‘Flick’ Haig and her teammate Johnny Adam won the 1 hour race by almost 28 seconds! Another Aston Martin was in 2nd place on a day that suited them. Minshaw and Keen looked on their way to a good result, until a broken wheel forced them into a pit-stop, and they ended in 4th place. With the car in one piece there was at least another race to try to get Rick n Ryans 2018 points tally started, as the Jools Westwood engineed car of Ian and Callum were able to pick up some points with a 7th place finish. However worse (or better depending on your point of view) was to come as the heavens opened and torrential rain flooded the track! Given that in race 1, a dry line did not appear even with 36 cars pounding around for an hour, the track surface was retaining water, and after another 3 laps behind the safety car, the race, and the rest of the programme, was abandoned. Rick summed uop. ‘Race 1 was bad enough, but it was far too dangerous to race! Onwards to Rockingham where we shall let the thunder roar!’
The other big news at Oulton Park was the return to racing of Billy Monger. Also known as ‘Billy Wiz’ he lost both his lower legs after an awful crash in April 2017, he was a sensation 12 months later in his first race in the 2018 F3 Series, finishing 3rd in his specially adapted car!
Reports by Marion A
Preview While some Welsh drivers are getting ready for the Welsh Sports & Saloon Championship to start towards the end of April, some Welsh drivers are already to start their season now! Whilst Ben Hingeley for Abergele has been working hard and showing well in the European F3 test days, Ryan Ratcliffe from Pontyberem near Llanelli, actually starts racing this weekend in the first round of the British GT Championship at Oulton Park! Ryan will link up again with Rick Parfitt Jnr who is the current GT3 champion! Rick was partnered in 2017 by Seb Morris, but now that Seb is moving on to race in the Blancpain Endro Series in Europe, Ryan has taken his place. Rick & Ryan already know each other as they won the GT4 championship together in 2013! They will continue with the Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 car, but with all new sponsorship! Whilst Oulton Park may not be thought of as a ‘Bentley’ circuit, last year Rick n Seb were on pole position for both of the traditional 1 hours races, and Callum Macloed in the 2nd of the Team Parker Racing Bentleys, set the fastest lap, lowering Seb Morris’ record time set in 2016! Team Parker will run 2 GT3 cars again, with Ian Loggie partnering Callum Macloed again! Qualifying will be on Saturday 31st March and the first of the 2 x 1 Hour races starts at 11.00 am on Bank Holiday Monday. (Preview by Marion A)