After a two-hour race at Rockingham on Sunday 30th April, that will be remembered as a thrilling contest with an uncertain ending ,Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris, driving the Team Parker Racing Bentley claimed victory in the 3rd round of the 2017 British GT, after a confusing race full of Safety Cars and penalties!
After Qualifying, Rick started the Bentley in 5th place, and Lee Mowle started the Groundhog Mercedes in 6th place! The 2hr mini-enduro race began with the Aston Martin of pole-sitter Derek Johnston retaining the lead from the Lamborghini Hurruican of points leader Jon Minshaw,.
After a brief Safety Car period at the start of lap three, the lead battle quickly developed into a three-horse race, while Farmer dropped back into the clutches of Rick Parfitt Jnr, Cameron, Lee Mowle and Liam Griffin whose poor start saw his Lamborghini plummet from fourth to eighth.
Further back a pivotal moment in the race’s outcome was developing. Cameron’s repeated track limit violations earned his Ferrari a five-second penalty, which was added to his in-race time. That meant the Ferrari 488 GT3 was five seconds further behind on the timing screens than it appeared on track! After the pit-stops it was Mitchell – taking over the Aston Martin from his co-driver Littlejohn – who emerged ahead of Seb Morris whose co-driver Parfitt Jnr gained a place before the stops.
Griffin rejoined fourth but immediately cleared Ryan Ratcliffe’s AMDTuning.com Mercedes-AMG before setting off after Mitchell and Morris. His deficit was eight seconds but such was the Ferrari’s pace that the lead soon became a three-way scrap. The trio ran nose-to-tail for a short while until Seb forced his way into the lead at the final chicane, followed by the Ferrari of Griffin.
Cameron’s five-second penalty was carried over to his team-mate Griffin, who still had to pass Morris and pull away if he wanted to take victory himself! The green Ferrari finally forced his way past Seb by barging him out of the way! This would have repercussions later, meanwhile Seb kept the Ferrari in sight, until the race was interrupted by a bungled third Safety Car period with 24 minutes remaining. The Ferrari was waved passed, with gave him a ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card.
However, although the Ferrari was the first car to take the chequered Flag, the car and drivers were swiftly demoted to 2nd place, giving Team Parker Racing, Parfitt Jnr and Morris the victory and moved them into their rightful position as race winners of round three to secure their first silverware of the new season – also moving them into the championship top two.
“We’re obviously all delighted to have taken the win, especially after how the race ended”, said 21-year-old racer Morris, “The only reason the Ferrari got past was because there was contact, so I’m pleased the officials made the right decision with the penalty. I thoroughly enjoyed it out there, we were competitive and had a very strong race. We seemed to gather more pace towards the end and the Bentley looked after the tyres well. I really got into the swing of things in my stint, had a good battle and produced some good moves. We’re very happy.”
The end to the race was really confusing, none of us knew what was happening when the Ferrari was waved by the Safety Car. It all worked out the right way in the end, though, so we’re happy with the result and looking forward to Snetterton now.”
Ryan Ratcliffe came home sixth in his AMDTuning.com Mercedes-AMG.
A puncture put paid to Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod’s hopes in the second Team Parker Bentley, but they did recover to finish ninth ahead of Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing’s Richard Neary and Martin Short.
However, while questions were asked about the Safety Car procedure – which was handled correctly by the letter of the regulations – an investigation was immediately launched to establish whether Griffin had gained an unfair advantage by making avoidable contact when passing Morris. There was enough evidence to suggest he had, but with the race run there was no way of allowing the Bentley to re-take the position without imposing a post-race penalty. 26 seconds was therefore applied. Championship Manager Ben Franassovici: “What happened today with the Safety Car procedure was very unfortunate but, given the letter of the regulations, not something we could have controlled. We follow the MSA’s regulations which state the Safety Car must pick up the race leader, which in official timing was not the #21 Spirit of Race Ferrari. Race Control therefore had no choice but to wave it by. Applying in-race time penalties contributed to this but these are the rules by which we and others race under the MSA’s jurisdiction. Today we found an annomally, which will be investigated fully. One way or another there must be changes to avoid this situation from arising again.”
There is now a four week break in the British GT Championship calendar with rounds four and five, which revert to the 60-minute duration format, scheduled to take place over the weekend 27th/28th May at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk.
The race will be screened live in the UK on free-to-air digital channel Front Runner. http://www.frontrunner.tv/
Seb Morris Management/Commercial Contact:
Tel: +44 (0)7595 956145
images supplied courtesy Jakob Ebrey Photography