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)