By Full Contact News and Views
Full Contact client and British GT Championship title contender Seb Morris delivered an utterly dominant performance with his team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr during the three-hour ‘Silverstone 500’ on Sunday, 11th June, to claim their second victory of 2017 and move to within touching distance of the top of the title standings.
From the moment the lights went out at the start of the race, round six of the campaign, the Team Parker Racing pairing were in a league of their own. Parfitt Jnr rocketed into the lead from second on the grid and over the course of the next three hours, where each driver contested two stints each, they dominated with Seb taking the chequered flag well over a minute clear.
While everything went to plan, the race wasn’t without some drama for the Bentley Continental GT3 duo with Parfitt Jnr almost side-swiped by a lapped car early in the final hour and there was also a slight issue with gear selection which required a change of steering wheel in the second pit stop.
As well as taking a richly deserved victory, the team-mates are now just four points shy of the top of the championship standings and Seb and Rick were also presented with the prestigious, and very historic, ‘RAC Trophy’ which was previously awarded for a 500-mile race at Brooklands in 1932.
“We had an amazing strategy today, the team decided to run the car light rather than running heavy on fuel and that really helped us”, said Morris, “Plus Rick was ridiculously fast from the start and was miles quicker than the other ‘Am’ drivers, and I wasn’t too shabby myself! It was nice to test myself against [Adam] Christodoulou at the end as he’s one of the top drivers in the world in GT. We took a hit at Oulton and then again at Snetterton, but in the big ones we seem to be winning so that’s working out OK and we’ve closed up on the championship lead. Everyone did an amazing job this weekend, huge thank you to the guys at Parker and, of course, to all of our incredible sponsors.”
Getting the biggest event of the season off to a great start, the No.31 Bentley was third fastest in opening practice on Saturday morning and then seventh in session two ahead of the all-important qualifying run.
Parfitt Jnr took the ‘Am’ session and produced a best time of 2m02.863 seconds (107.25mph) to lap second fastest while, in the ‘Pro’ outing, Morris delivered a quickest effort of 2m00.802 seconds (109.08mph) to move the duo onto pole position on combined times. In the end, though, the No.24 Aston Martin just pipped the Team Parker drivers to pole by less than a tenth of a second.
Confident of a strong showing in the big race on Sunday, Parfitt Jnr got things off to a great start by thundering into the lead on the run into Copse when the lights went out and he opened a cushion of more than seven seconds over the course of the first quarter of an hour.
Pitting to hand over to Morris just before the 40-minute mark, with five seconds in hand, the BRDC Superstar and MSA Team UK driver emerged in ninth position but when the first round of stops were complete he was back in the lead of the race. Leading by more than half a minute, Morris went on to increase the lead to well over 40 seconds and he then pitted at the halfway point.
With one of the gear-shift paddles sticking, the team changed the steering wheel in that pit-stop and Parfitt Jnr rejoined the encounter in eighth place. Early in the final hour, while fourth on the road, he was fortunate to avoid being collected by a lapped Aston Martin at Stowe and duly pitted for the third and final mandatory stop from third place with 48 minutes to go.
Welsh racer Morris climbed back aboard the Bentley and emerged in sixth place before quickly rising up the order into the lead. Reassuming first place on lap 72, with around 25 minutes remaining on the clock, Morris had an advantage of 53 seconds and he went on to increase the gap to 64 seconds into the final lap before taking a thoroughly well-deserved, and very popular, Silverstone 500 victory.
British GT now heads into a four week break ahead of the fifth event of the season, the annual overseas visit to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, which will take place between Thursday, 6th July, and Saturday, 8th July. Seb and Rick stand second in the Championship on 115 points, just four points behind the leaders – the Lamborghini paid Minshaw and Keen.
For highlights of the weekend see below (and try and spot Full Contact’s Dan Chapman!):
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Full Contact News and Views includes articles contributed by Associates and professional contacts within the Full Contact team and includes opinion on sports law, PR and media, football agency and more.
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