Welsh GT stars get ready for 2020 + New Bentley Boy Seb Morris and others head to Bathurst

Photo: Drew Gibson

BENTLEY FACTORY DRIVER MORRIS ANNOUNCED AS ‘PRO’ RACER FOR FRENCH TEAM CMR IN GT-3 EUROPE RACING. Bentley factory driver Seb Morris has been announced as the ‘Pro’ driver for French team CMR  (Classic & Modern Racing’) in this season’s five-round GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – adding to the Welshman’s works commitments in the global Intercontinental GT Challenge. Seb , will dovetail his driving duties with the manufacturer’s full works squad, run by M-Sport, with his new role at CMR in GT World Challenge Europe at the wheel of a customer Bentley Continental GT3. Seb is already a proven force in the championship formerly known as Blancpain Endurance Cup, he immediately established himself as a driver to watch and one of the quickest on the grid. Now entrusted by Bentley with the Pro driver role at CMR, the 24-year-old is delighted to be making a return to the pan-European championship for a third year and extremely happy to remain part of Bentley’s expanding customer race programme as part of his prestigious works role.

“It’s fantastic news to be placed with CMR by Bentley for the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup” I’m really looking forward to starting work with the team and getting preparations underway for the start of the season in April at Monza. Obviously, it’s a huge honour to be entrusted by Bentley with the Pro driver role in one of CMR’s Bentley Continentals this year and, along with my factory drive in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, I’m determined to deliver the absolute best performances I can for Bentley throughout 2020. It’s set to be a very exciting year, I’ve never looked forward to a season in racing as much!”

Following a two-day official test for the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup competitors at Paul Ricard in France on 12th/13th March, the opening round will take place at ultra-fast Monza in Italy over the weekend 18th/19th April.

Starting with the Bathurst 12 hr race at Mount Panorama in Australia, the growing band of Welsh drivers in International racing action are headed by Seb Morris, who has joined the official Bentley team for the 2020 season having been chosen as one of new breed of young drivers to become ’Bentley Boys! Seb who won the 2017 British Gt Championship, and amongst his awards  were the 2011 WRDA Welsh Young Driver of the Year and the 2016/17 Neil Cunningham Memorial Trophy .

2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge consists of 5 races, starting with the Bathurst 12 hr race, the Bentley team will run 2 cars, one for the highly experienced team of Maxime Soulet (Belgium  Jules Gounon (France)and Jordan Pepper (South Arica). In the other car is a British trio of Seb Morris with Oliver Jarvis and Alex Buncombe as his team-mates. “It’s actually been a textbook route from customer racing into the works team for me,” said Morris, who won the British GT title in 2017. “I first raced the Bentley Continental GT3 in 2016 for Team Parker Racing in British GT, which we went on to win! (and won 10 races in 3 years with numerous fastest laps and track records) . Thanks to race all those race wins Seb was selected last year to join the works team in several long distance races  in 2019 and impressed with his raw pace!. Seb summed up’ Now as a fully-fledged works team driver, I can’t wait to start my career as a Bentley Boy.”

Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Paul Williams, added: “We’ve been very careful to grow and adapt our programme in a way that is sustainable for us and beneficial to both our new and old customers, and I am very pleased that we have attracted teams that operate at the highest level. Bentley Team M-Sport has been instrumental in enabling us to grow our customer programme and build the Continental GT3s required for 2020, while also preparing for Bathurst 12 Hours and planning an extensive test schedule that will benefit all of our teams.”

Also at Bathurst for the 12hour race are Welsh Legend Jules Westwood (Lamborghini) and Cardiffs Matthew Parry (Aston Martin)

Meanwhile stepping into the seat at JRM that Seb has vacated will be ‘Strickly Come Dancing’ star Kelvin Fletcher who with Martin Plowman will race with JRM Racing and Bentley this season.

Devaudens Nick Jones and team-mate Scott Malvern will race with Team Parker Racing and Bentley this season, taking the place of Llanellis Ryan Ratcliffe who will move to the Porsche GT Cup that supports the heavily televised British Touring Car Championship!

Andy Meyrick has re-signed for a fourth season with Spanish team, Bullitt Racing for 2020 as the team take on the Michelin Le Mans Cup in a Bentley Continental GT3.

Meyrick, has considerable experience of the Bentley  taking wins in 2014 Silverstone and Paul Ricard as well as podiums at the 2015 Paul Ricard, Monza and Nürburgring endurance races.

“I’m excited to take the next step with Bullitt with the eventual target of a place on the 24 Hours of Le Mans grid,” said Meyrick. “I have enjoyed a great relationship with Bentley for a long time now and combining this with my three years at Bullitt Racing; I’m very excited for the 2020

The Michelin Le Mans Cup comprises of five two-hour races at the Barcelona, Monza  Paul Ricard (F) and Spa-Francorchamps with the finale in Portugal. Moreover, the series includes a ‘blue riband’ double-header supporting the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans, made up of two 55-minutes races in the middle of June.

“It’s fantastic to have Andy back as driver and Team Performance Director for Bullitt Racing’s fourth season of racing and the step up to GT3,” said Stephen Pattrick. “Andy has been instrumental in making the change to Bentley and to race the Bentley Continental GT3. Meanwhile Andy and his wife Becky are expecting their first baby shortly.

Meanwhile. Cardiff  boy Jann Mardenborough @Jannthaman is starting his 5th year in Japan

Seb & Rick battle through at Donington in the last race in the 2019 British GT Championship, but Ryan Ratcliffe & his new teammate posted a  non-finish after gearbox failure, meaning that Ryan’s fine drive went unrewarded!

In qualifying Seb & Rick were only able to post the 11th fastest time whilst Ryan and his new teammate Jordan Witt were dead last in the GT3 class.  However the Team Parker mechanics found that one of the cars turbos was faulty and having changed it, a recovery drive was in prospect for the no. 7 Bentley Continental.

Meanwhile in the JRM pits, the highly experienced Team Engineer Welshman Jules Westwood, explained why the new generation Bentley Continental GT3 car had only One British GT race all season! ‘The Balance of Performance (i.e Handicap) given to us by the organisers has really hurt us, as they use the same factors as they use for the European races. It’s better on European tracks as there are lots of sweeping corners but in the UK there are lots of Slow hairpins. The drivers say the car handles well but it’s slow through the speedtraps so what we gain on one part of the circuit we loose on the rest. It’s up to the manufacturer to appeal against the BOP, and we understand they have appealed but we haven’t seen any change, and we have a weight and power penalty to carry today’ Running 60kg of ballast more than the team had at the beginning of the year, plus less turbo boost, the JRM Bentley was the slowest GT3 car through the speed traps and consistently between 3mph and 4mph down on the competition on the straights!

Dream Team- Rick & Seb meet the public

Dream Team- Rick & Seb meet the public

At the start of the race, the 300th race in the British Gt Championship a clash at the back of the grid brought out the safety car. It what seems to be a series trend, the safety car went so fast that the grid was spread far and wide when the race restarted! Even so Rick Parfitt Jnr in the 31 JRM car and Ryan Ratcliffe in the no 76 car powered forward.  However Rick dropped down to 30th place after being forced into a spin by a hit from an Aston Martin. Rick then put in a ‘Drive of the Day’ to hand over the car to Seb  in 11th place!

Meanwhile Ryan Ratcliffe (still waiting for his hair to regrow after ’Braving the Shave’) had risen to 6th place but shortly after handing over to his new team-mate Jordan Witt the car was back in the pits and out of the race with gearbox problems!

Joining the action in 12th place, Seb ever the professional racer had a major task with a 16 second gap to the Aston of Valentin Hasse-Clot. Setting the quickest first sector of anyone as he began his stint, Morris certainly declared his intent and was soon into the top 10 and s closed to within almost eight seconds of Hasse-Clot. However a Safety Car period meant Morris got ever closer to the Aston and stalked him and passed Hasse-Clot for eighth. Seb was on fire and he  caught, and passed, Bradley Ellis’ Aston Martin on the final lap – the car which earlier made contact with Parfitt Jnr – even though the JRM machine was badly squeezed.  Completing a superb recovery Sebs  his best lap of the race, 1m28.280 seconds, was just 0.4 seconds shy of the fastest of all to underline the tremendous performance.

“Our car on Sunday was one of the best cars I’ve ever had the pleasure to drive and Rick drove the best he has all season, he was the closest to me in qualifying he’s ever been”, added Morris, “JRM put together a brand new team for this year and they’ve done a superb job, I’m looking forward to hopefully being back with them next year – if they want me!”

With the British GT season now completed, Morris’ focus returns to his Blancpain Endurance Cup season where he will reunite with Team Parker Racing for the fifth and final round at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain on Sunday, 29th September.

Morris gets a Bentley boost & gets set for Suzaka 10 hrs!

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.

Seb ready to race- images courtesy Jakob Ebrey Photography

Seb ready to race- images courtesy Jakob Ebrey Photography

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

Before the dramas!  Rick leads Glen before Glen crashes out of the race!

Before the dramas! Rick leads Glen before Glen crashes out of the race!

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.”

At least he and Rick scored 3 points! However it was Ryan Ratclffe who posted a ‘No score’ after his team-mate Glyn Geddie, had crashed hard at Westfield Bend, bringing out the safety car!

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.

Welsh Drivers Seb Morris, Ryan Ratcliffe and Andy Meryick are set to star at Spa Francorchamps .  2019 British GT championship.  The focus for GT3 action shifts to Spa-Francorchamps for the next 2 weeks with Round 7 of the 2019 British GT championship due on 21st July. The Classic Ardennes circuit should suit the Bentley Continental GT3 cars better than Donington Park did. In contrast to the East Midlands circuit with its 2 hairpins and a slow chicane, Spa is a classic drivers circuit with plenty of high speed corners in its 4.35 miles. In fact Seb Morris holds the GT3 Lap Record set in 2017 with a time of 2m18.821. This was in his championship year with Rick Parfitt Jnr in the Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3. Ryan Ratcliffe had his best result in 2018, when he held off a gaggle of cars in a wonderful, defensive drive that saw him & Rick Parfitt Jnr on the podium after finishing in 2nd place, and a repeat of the result would see Ratcliffe and his 2019 team-mate Glen Geddie take the lead in the Silver Class standings. The only fly in the ointment is the Balance of Performance handicap handed to the new generation of the Bentley in the British GT championship.  Live action   https://www.dailymotion.com/GTWorld                                                  Friday 19th testing times https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/19291 
Ps Ryan Ratcliffe has being doing a ’Brave the Shave’ charity fundraiser for McMillian Cancer support and raised £13,300 so far and hopes he can get it to 15K!    https://bravetheshave.macmillan.org.uk/shave…/ryan-ratcliffe
After the British GT race finishes the drivers will stay in Spa for the classic Total Oils 24hrs of Spa, July 27/28, which is round of the Blancpain Endurance Championship. Having scored the first win for the new Generation car in the Brit Gt series, Seb Morris has shown some impressive form in Blancpain championship this year, however the car has been beset with problems and team has so far not reaped the benefit.
However he has now been drafted in to the Official Bentley factory squad, as they celebrate the centenary of the Bentley marque! The founder W.O Bentley built his first car in 1919, and his cars went on to score several wins in 24hr races.
The Official Bentley team run by M-Sport, the team set up and run by Rally Legend Malcolm Wilson, have entered 4 cars in an all-out attempt to score an outright win at Spa! With the cars number 107 to 110, Morris will be partnered in car 109 by Rodrigo Baptista from Brazil and Callum Macleod who he knows from British Gt racing.
In car 110 Lucas Ordonez, whose first races was with us the WSSCC, and he is partnered by the ultra-quick Andy Soucek also from Spain, and Pipo Derani from Brazil.
Additionally in the Pro-am Class, in Bentley car 31 run by Team Parker Racing will be Ryan Ratcliffe and Glynn Geddie plus the highly experienced Andy Meyrick and also Derek Pierce.
All 5 Bentleys will be part of a record-breaking 72-car entry list! With some top line and formidable opposition, however the Bentley driven by part of the M-Sport team in the Spa race, recently won the 6 hr race at Paul Ricard, so they have the pace and longevity.