Seb Morris - Brands Hatch GPFortec Motorsports driver Seb Morris made an excellent start to his Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin title bid at a rain-hit Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 20th/21st October, with victory during round one followed by a top four result in round two.

Ending the first weekend of the Winter Series just two points shy of the top of the championship, the 16-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star has a fantastic chance of securing his third car racing title in as many years when the championship resumes three weeks from now.

Making a strong start to the rain-affected Brands Hatch weekend, Seb posted the fastest time of the day during pre-event testing on Friday, 19th October, a remarkable 0.9 seconds clear at the head of the field. In qualifying though, he had to settle for third on the grid for both races.

Producing a great start to round one on Saturday afternoon, the Marford-based teenager launched past the stalled car of Gustav Malja and ran close behind leader Matt Mason for the first half of the race, the pair trading fastest laps.

Just a second behind Mason going into lap nine, Seb kept the pressure on and part-way through the lap his rival pushed just a bit too hard as he went off the road – enabling the Fortec driver to sweep past into the lead which he maintained to the chequered flag on lap 12. Winning by almost eight seconds, he only just missed out on the bonus points for fastest lap by a mere 0.1 seconds.

“He [Mason] was on the edge from the start, we were both pushing so hard and that meant the tyre life was very short”, explained the Ginetta Ambassador, “When we got past lap five or six the tyres completely went off, so I adjusted my driving and I think that paid off. The main thing with the Winter Series is to finish all four races, there are no drop rounds so you can’t afford a bad result.”

The weather for Sunday’s televised race was dreadful, persistent and worsening rain throughout the day rendering visibility extremely poor. Seb made another good start, taking second place at Druids on the first lap, and he proceeded to reel-in leader Mason.

Tucked right up under the rear wing of his rival going into Clearways at the end of lap one, the Welsh racer managed to cut to the inside line on the run through Clark Curve and held on into the second tour to grab the lead. Mason hit back into Druids but Seb immediately returned the favour with a great pass into the next turn, Graham Hill Bend.

On the run into the left-hander at Surtees though, the slightest of twitches for his FR 2.0 pitched his car off the circuit in the horrendously slippery conditions. Recovering in eighth place, Seb mounted a rapid recovery and by the end of lap three he was in fifth position.

Another unfortunate moment, while pushing to try and take fourth from Michael Epps, resulted in a spin but Seb again recovered well and climbed back into fifth from seventh before moving into fourth on the last lap of the race.

“When I was behind [Michael] Epps I couldn’t see a thing in the spray and I must have just caught the edge of the kerb which spun me round”, explained the Abbey Gate College student, “I managed to fight back from there and the car was there for me towards the end. It’s unfortunate the way race two turned out but I’m only two points behind going into Rockingham, so we’re right in the chase.”

Rockingham International Sportscar Circuit, near Corby in Northamptonshire, will host the decisive third and fourth rounds of the Winter Series on Saturday, 10th November.

2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin Standings (after Rds1&2):
1st Matt Mason, 56pts; 2nd Seb Morris, 54pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.