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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Seb Morris

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass with Bentley factory GT recruit Seb Morris…

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Britain’s Seb Morris is the latest addition to the Bentley factory GT driver lineup and will represent the marque in GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS this year.

The 24-year-old has been racing Bentleys since 2016 and has already earned success with the brand, winning the 2017 British GT title with Rick Parfitt Jr. and Team Parker Racing.

Following a trial run with the factory M-Sport squad in last year’s 24 Hours of Spa and Suzuka 10 Hours, Morris was promoted to the works roster for 2020 and is hoping to make the most of this new career opportunity.

Last season was a tough one in terms of results in both British GT and GTWC Europe Endurance Cup, but what did you glean from that experience?

“I used last year as a test session, basically as a job interview for Bentley. Results-wise, it was my worst year on record. But as an actual year for myself to prove what I could do with Bentley, it was absolutely ideal.

“It was really good because it took the pressure off me since I wasn’t going to race weekends hoping for a result. I was going there thinking, let’s just show them what I can do.

“I got the chance to drive for M-Sport at Spa. We were out the race 20 minutes in, but in all the test sessions and the qualifying again I was right up there with the other Bentley guys.

“And then I got another opportunity at Suzuka and I did a good job there. After that, I got the call to race full time. The rest is history, really.”

How difficult is it to show yourself as a potential factory driver in a year when the results are hard to come by?

“It was really crazy. I was turning up to race weekends with no pressure at all.

“And of course, initially you hope for a result, but a few things would go wrong straight away, and so I’d have to switch into ‘Seb Mode 2’, like some kind of test mode.

“And it was good because a lot of people noticed my team morale was always really high because I’d switched into this Seb Mode 2, so I tried to lift everyone else’s morale.

“It was an interesting year because sometimes I didn’t even get to drive, and then other times I did. I think it was that maturity and patience I had that hopefully helped get the drive.”

How significant is it for you to now be a part of the Bentley factory lineup?

“It’s absolutely massive. I’ve been working as hard as I possibly can, on and off the track.

“Off-track, I’m trying to do more than everyone else. I’ve been making use of Bentley’s facilities with their personal trainer, Barry. I’ve been going up there once a month for regular fitness assessments and feel like I’m improving massively.

“I’ve been going up to the factory and seeing the boys and having meetings with the engineers, and I’m doing extra PR and media stuff for Bentley alongside that.

“I want to tick all these boxes because I want to make sure Bentley, as a manufacturer, wants to work with me for years to come.

“It’s not just about me driving the car: it’s about doing events and showcasing the brand and at the end of the day, they want to sell cars from doing this. That’s why they do motorsport.”

You’re a member of the BRDC SuperStars program for young British racing talent. Tell us a bit about the initiative and your personal journey.

“I joined the program in 2017. So after my first year with Bentley and I’d had some podiums and pole positions, that was when I joined.

“You get on the program purely based on results; you can’t write any letters to join. It’s a very exclusive club and there’s not many of us.

“I’ve been on the Rising Stars program since I was around 15, and then worked my way up through that, and then onto the SuperStars program.

“Andy [Meyrick, SuperStars co-ordinator and former Bentley driver] has been managing me since I was 14 years old so it’s been a long journey.

“It’s nice to see how far both myself and Andy have come because I started racing in cars at 14 and Andy was at the height of his professional career. Now he’s got to a level where he can run the Superstars, so we’ve both come very far.

“And that’s a result of how much of a good job he’s done with me. He’s now running all of us because people look at the relationship we’ve had and how far we’ve come up the ranks together, and that’s worked really well.”

You’re in a Pro-class car for this year’s GTWC Europe Endurance Cup. How does that differ from the Pro-Am lineups you’ve got used to being a part of?

“It changes your approach massively! Because in Pro-Am, I’m basically 90 percent of the time a driver coach, and you don’t look at yourself. You’ve got no data to compare against.

“You sacrifice your own track time for your Am driver, because there are many more gains to be had in the Am.

“But now it’s all pros, we get equal track time. And we all work together on car setup so you’re bouncing ideas off each other. I really enjoy it.”

Your first race as a Bentley factory driver was the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in February. How did it go for you?

“We did a fantastic job. We went from stone-dead last, starting from the pit lane, up to third place, but then Olly [Jarvis] had a tire blow out at the most unfortunate place on the mountain.

 “It was bad luck, but I came out there with my head held high. I was really gutted for everyone we didn’t get a podium on our side of the garage, but really happy for car No. 7 that they won.

“We could have had a P1 and a P3 for Bentley. We were just really disappointed, we felt we’d let them down, but there was nothing we could’ve done with that tire blow out.

“What that’s done now is shown everyone we’re capable. I think we were the most talked about car in the race and everyone was enjoying our fight through the pack – I was really enjoying it.

“Every time we went out, we moved higher and higher. And now we know we’ve got a race-winning lineup, so moving to the 24 Hours of Spa, we’re ultra-energized and really excited.”

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