Oulton Park International Circuit, home track for British GT Championship title contender Seb Morris, will be the venue for the long-awaited opening two rounds of the 2017 season on Easter Monday, 17th April, and the Welshman has his sights set on one thing – podium silverware.
As the venue for the Marford 21-year-old’s maiden endurance racing win last year with team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr, the undulating Cheshire track holds extremely fond memories for the duo who are back for a major title push in Team Parker Racing’s No.31 Bentley Continental GT3 car.
During the recent championship launch ‘Media Day’ test at Snetterton in Norfolk, Morris – who has attracted fresh sponsorship for his second season in British GT from new partners Ast Transport Branding and SaxonAir, with the addition of logistical assistance from Eddie Stobart – laid down a strong marker with the fastest time of all.
That said, the BRDC Superstar and MSA Team UK racer is well aware the full picture of the relative competitiveness of each GT3 entry won’t be fully clear until the opening qualifying session of the season on Saturday, 15th April.
“Obviously, I’m really looking forward to Oulton and the start of the season”, said Morris, “We’re all prepared, Rick [Parfitt Jnr] has had more testing this year and is looking good and we’ve worked on the car and made some changes. Everything is going in the right direction, although we haven’t been given the BOP [Balance of Performance] for the Bentley yet so we need to be a bit cautious.”
Last season, after four years in single-seater competition in Formula Renault, BRDC Formula 4 and GP3, Morris made a huge impact in GT racing by ending his maiden campaign third in the standings along with Parfitt Jnr, the duo sharing one win and five other podiums. Impressively, Morris became the man to beat in qualifying with four pole position starts from the seven race meetings.
With Oulton Park such a notoriously tricky circuit to overtake on, due to its tight confines, and with pit-stops at the track always extremely busy with a compact pit-lane, the Bentley driver knows qualifying and the mid race driver-changes will be the key facets of the opening weekend.
He added: “I think last year, because we were so fast in our first season, I think everyone got a little bit giddy but now we have a year of experience behind us, we can chip away at the fine detail and go into the race weekends a lot more relaxed.
“It was amazing to win at Oulton last year, and we’d love to repeat it this time, but we just need to see where we are after qualifying. It’s always great racing at my home track and having so many family and friends there, it definitely helps spur me on even more knowing half the people standing on the bank at turn one are there supporting me! Hopefully we can make a strong start.”
Excitingly for the new season, British GT has agreed a deal with free-to-air broadcaster Front Runner to screen all of the 2017 races – except the Spa-Francorchamps rounds in July – live, so a bumper day of action is guaranteed for armchair enthusiasts as well as those trackside at Oulton.
Following the usual pair of free practice sessions on Saturday, 15th April, the first qualifying session of the new British GT season will get underway at 16.20 – Parfitt Jnr will drive in the opening ‘Am’ session with Morris then taking over driving duties for the ‘Pro’ session immediately after.
On Easter Monday, 17th April, following a 10-minute morning warm-up round one will begin at 11.10 with round two scheduled for 15.30. Each contest will run to a duration of one hour. Live timing throughout the weekend will be available at www.tsl-timing.com