Wrda member Seb Morris has received a big boost after he was confirmed as part of the official works Bentley entry for the Suzuka 10 Hours, the fourth round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
The race which takes place on Sunday, 25th August will be Morris’ first ever visit to Japan and Suzuka, the classic drivers circuit that is the home of the Japanese Grand Prix. Chester-based Morris will team-up with highly-rated pros Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek. Combining forces in the Gold No.108 Bentley, the trio will start next week as genuine contenders for the podium and, quite possibly, victory.
“I’m incredibly grateful to Bentley for this opportunity”, said Morris, “I’ve never been to Suzuka, so it’s a real boost the team trusts my abilities to be able to go there and do the best job. Having worked with Bentley through its customer team programme for over four years now, I feel very comfortable in the Bentley environment and ready to perform. The Continental GT3 produces great downforce and performs well in high-speed corners, and I fully expect to be competing for top spot on the podium. It’s going to be my first time partnering Maxime and Andy, both fantastic pro drivers, so as well as being determined to deliver the very best performance I can, it will also be an incredible chance to learn a huge amount from two of GT racing’s most successful drivers.”
Suzuka, of course, needs little introduction as one of the world’s most well known and high-profile motor racing circuits. Home to the FIA Formula One World Championship’s Japanese Grand Prix, the uniquely challenging 3.6-mile, 18-turn track has featured in some of international motorsport’s most thrilling battles at the pinnacle of single-seater and GT endurance racing. This year’s Suzuka 10 hours, sponsored by BH Auctions is the 48th staging of the race. The entry list eads like a Who’s Who of GT racing competition and notably features 1998 and 1999 Formula One World Champion Mika Hakkinen. The first track action at Suzuka will come during pre-event practice next Friday, 23rd August, with additional practice and qualifying following on Saturday, 24th August – the latter getting underway at 13.00 (local time). Pole position shoot-out for the fastest 20 cars from qualifying will commence at around 17.30 (local time). On Sunday, 25th August, the Suzuka 10 Hours will begin at 10.00 (local time), 02.00 UK time.
The official website is https://www.suzukacircuit.jp/10h_en/
2019 British GT Championship -Brands Hatch
Bentleys mobile sauna fries Seb at Brands. Trying month for Seb Morris ended last week with a frightening incident.
(Edited by Rob Allender. Photos by British GT.com)
- There was high drama in British GT event Brands Hatch as Seb Morris was rushed to the medical centre after a damaged car ventilation made him pass out from heat exhaustion! He still managed to finish the 2hr contest in P9 for JRM and also remarkably achieves fastest stint time average!
British GT Championship racer Seb Morris is at home recovering today, Monday, 5th August, following a frightening conclusion to the penultimate round of the season at Brands Hatch where the JRM driver had to be dragged from his Bentley Continental after passing out behind the wheel.
Ventilation issues, which followed on after Rick Parfitt Jnr spun and put the JRM Bentley into the wall. Rick headed for the pitlane after recovering to the track in order to hand over to Morris. The officials insisting on the damaged bonnet of the Bentley being repaired, but missed that the ventilation system was damaged meaning the interior of the car filled with boiling-hot air throughout Morris’ stint in the second half of the two-hour race which caused the Welsh racer to begin to lose consciousness. Morris still somehow managed to take the Bentley GT3 to an unthinkable ninth place and he also achieved the fastest average stint time…truly remarkable.
Testament to his incredible fitness, Morris made it back to the pitlane but when he arrived at the team garage he had to be physically dragged out of the car by the JRM crew who administered water immediately, trying to cool Morris’ body temperature. Fellow teams up and down the pitlane also rushed to the Chester-based driver’s aid before he was transferred to the circuit medical centre.
Thankfully, when his body temperature had reduced to normal levels and fluid levels stabilised, the BRDC Superstar and Motorsport UK ‘Team UK’ driver was permitted to leave the track around an hour or so after the incident.
“In the whole of my stint the car was over-heating, the heat was coming straight into the car and I started to feel really strange”, explained Morris, “There was no air coming in with the ventilation having been damaged after Rick’s accident, I really did start to struggle and I was even being sick in my crash helmet. I started to feel like I was passing out! The temperature inside the car was hitting 70 degrees, it wasn’t far off being hot enough to boil water, and the heat was coming direct into my face. Somehow, I managed to keep going and I think that’s testament to my fitness. It was the deepest I have ever had to dig in my life, the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do and definitely the longest hour of my life! Morris added: “When I got into pitlane the team had to drag me out of the car as I’d passed out, they started throwing water on me and trying to cool me down and then all of the other teams saw what was happening and they all started to do the same which was fantastic – I can’t thank them all enough and, of course, the circuit medical staff who were amazing. They took me away on a stretcher to the medical centre and I was in there for an hour while they started to rehydrate me and keep a check on my body temperature and all my fluid levels. It was really frightening, all I can think is I’m so thankful I’ve trained as hard as I have with my fitness, that definitely helped to save me from a potentially massive accident.”
All the while trying to apply pressure to the group of cars ahead, the JRM driver was feeling increasingly unwell and yet he miraculously managed to not only take the chequered flag, but also finish within just a couple of seconds behind the top five.
“Even with the damage and the ventilation problem, I still posted one of the fastest laps of the race and that’s thanks to the great job JRM did with the set-up”, reflected Morris, “If we hadn’t been prevented from leaving the pits without the bonnet repaired, I think we could have been fourth or fifth to be honest. In the end, though, I’m just relieved I’m OK…”
In the points standings Ryan & Glynn will finish in 2nd place in the Silver Class after Wilkinson & Ellis scored enough points to win the Class. In the GT3 Drivers championship Ryan and Glynn are in 10th place but only 3.5 points ahead of Seb & Rick in the battle of the Bentleys!
I am sure that neither team thought that would be the sole point of interest, at the start of the season, when Ryan was fighting for the lead, but Seb & Rick went on to win the 1st race at Oulton Park!
Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit in Leicestershire will host the final round of the British GT season on Sunday, 15th September.
Total Oils 24hrs of Spa postscript. It was a bad day at the office for the Bentley squad, with only 1 car finishing out of 4 official entries and The Team Park pro-am squad entry! In Qualifying Seb Morris had the satisfaction of coming out as the 4th fastest driver out of the 16 strong driver team, but he was never able to compete in the race, after Callum MacLeod stopped at the side of the track with a engine blow-up after only 6 laps! The Team Parker entry only lasted 51 laps before crashing out, leaving Ryan Ratcliffe and Andy Meyrick on the sidelines too! Only the car of Lucas Ordonez, Andy Soucek and Pippo Derani made it to the finish, albeit in 29th place, 6 laps behind the winning Porsche 911 GT3 R and the 2nd place Porsche making it a Porsche 1-2
Ryan Ratcliffe and Glynn Geddie took third overall, during round seven of the season at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, 21st July, after a nail-biting finish to the race!
Qualifying on Saturday, 20th July, was impacted by some typical Ardennes weather with heavy rainfall prior to the start of the first session meaning a fully-wet track. But Ryan finished as 2nd fastest just ahead of Rick Parfitt Jnr! Session two, however, didn’t go to plan for Morris – GT3 lap record holder at Spa – and in a less than straightforward run he had to settle for the 11th best time. On combined times from the two sessions, the No.31 JRM Bentley lined-up eighth on the grid but although Glynns’time was slower than Morriss’, the Team Parker no 7 Bentley would start in 3rd place for Sunday’s afternoon’s two-hour race.
The Race – 2hrs – Rolling start
In the opening hour of the race Ryan settled into third place in the Bentley Continental GT3 before setting after Ian Loggie’s Mercedes ahead, passing and chasing down leader Oli Wilkinson. Opting to leave the Bentley out for an extra lap as the pits were busy was an inspired decision by the Parker Racing team, as it had the second quickest stop in GT3, putting Glynn out in second place.
However, the Scot was hunted down by Rob Bell and Callum MacLeod in the final stages, working hard to fend off attacks all over the circuit. Things came to a head late on, as McLeod got a run on both cars, and they went into Eau Rouge three abreast!
There was further drama on the final lap as Glynn and Bell continued to fight over third place, as oil at the last corner caused chaos! With cars spinning and running wide, Glynn shot across the line in the final podium spot. After the race Ryan Ratcliffe summed up “We had a great race. Loggie had an amazing start in the Mercedes and got past me going into the first corner. I managed to pass him when we got into traffic and from then on it was a case of getting my head down and chasing the Aston. You got some pockets where you got through traffic really well and some where you didn’t, but to be fair to the GT4 cars they were really good. It was the backmarkers in GT3 which were hard to get past. It was horrible watching the end of the race; I’d rather be in the car! It was enjoyable though and Glynn did really well. It puts us in a good position for next week and the team are in good spirits too.” Glynn Geddie commented “If that’s what the whole 24 Hours is going to be like, then it will be a tiring one!
Meanwhile Seb & Rick experienced a continuation of the misfortune which has unfairly hampered their 2019 British GT Championship challenge when two luckless penalties and a tyre blow-out ruined any hopes of a podium. Qualifying on Saturday, 20th July, was impacted by some typical Ardennes weather with heavy rainfall prior to the start of the first session meaning a fully-wet track awaited Parfitt Jnr. Lapping well in the challenging conditions, he ended the run with the third fastest time overall.
Session two, however, didn’t go to plan for Morris – GT3 lap record holder at Spa – and in a less than straightforward run he had to settle for the 11th best time. On combined times from the two sessions, the No.31 JRM Bentley lined-up eighth on the grid for Sunday’s afternoon’s two-hour race.
With JRM team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr having to serve a stop/go penalty early in the 120-minute race, following contact with one of the Lamborghinis, a second penalty had to be served during hour two after officials deemed the mid-race pit-stop to have been fractionally too short.
Incredibly, a puncture with around 20 minutes to run added real insult to injury and necessitated a third unscheduled stop. Chester-based driver Morris eventually went on to take the chequered flag in an exasperating 12th position, 10th in the Pro-Am class.
“We qualified out of place and everything went wrong from there really”, said the BRDC Superstar and Motorsport UK ‘Team UK’ driver, “Rick got into a tangle on the first lap, which gave us the first penalty, and then we were a fraction of a second too fast in the pit-stop. When I had the blow-out, it just rubbed salt in the wound.
“In terms of my performance I was happy, after all of the penalties and issues there was no chance of a result so I just used the race as a test session really ahead of the 24 hour race next weekend. I can’t wait for that, racing as a factory driver with Bentley is the biggest opportunity of my career so far. From the point of view of British GT, though, I just hope we can have some better luck soon.”
The points gained leave Ratcliffe & Geddie in 8th place overall with 52.54 points ahead of Morris & Parfitt Jnr who are 9th overall with 46 points. Ratcliffe & Geddie remain 2nd in the Silver class 10th points behind race winners Wilkinson & Ellis.
Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent will host the penultimate round of the British GT season two weeks from now on Sunday, 4th August. In the meantime everyone will remain at Spa-Francorchamps for the weekends prestigious Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Total 24 Hours of Spa. The first sessions get underway on Tuesday, July 23, with the race itself on starting on Saturday July 27.