2011 Ginetta Junior Champion Seb Morris made a welcome, and richly deserved, return to the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship podium at Donington Park on Sunday, 19th August, with a third place finish in round 12 of the season.
Forming part of a bumper ‘triple-header’ weekend at the Leicestershire venue’s 1.98-mile National Circuit, the third race proved to be the best of the bunch for the Marford-based driver in which he also set the fastest lap.
Beginning the event well with a strong performance in qualifying on Saturday, 18th August, the newly awarded British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star secured fourth on the grid for round 10, third on the grid for round 11 – a mere 0.079 seconds shy of pole – and a front row start for race three.
Round 12 therefore looked to be Seb’s best chance of challenging for a race victory and so it proved early on as the 16-year-old piled on the pressure to pole-starter David Wagner. The leader defended stoutly though and it backed the Welshman into the clutches of the drivers behind.
From being in a position to try and seize the lead exiting Coppice on lap two, the Fortec Motorsports racer instead came under attack for second on the run to the chicane and was shuffled back to third before then slipping to fourth at the Old Hairpin.
Determined to mount a strong fightback, Seb regained third on lap seven and posted the fastest lap on the 10th tour to confirm his race-winning potential. The result also marked the single-seater rookie’s first visit to the podium since his round five victory at Rockingham.
“We definitely had the pace to win”, said the Ginetta Ambassador, “I’m disappointed with the first couple of laps, I got taken advantage of on cold tyres. I took the start more carefully than I probably should have as I was mindful of a potential penalty for creeping off the line on the slope, otherwise I think I would have had [David] Wagner off the start and it would have been a different story.
“It’s a shame we couldn’t win but it was a fantastic race and I’m really happy to be back on the podium after a very disappointing couple of months. Hopefully we can build on this and be on the podium at Silverstone to end the season on a high.”
Lining-up on row two for round 10, Seb made a great getaway to move into third but was pushed back to fourth at the end of the opening lap by Kieran Vernon. Determined to wrest the place back, the MSA Academy driver shadowed Vernon and into lap nine there was nothing between them.
Well-placed to mount a challenge for third on the run into Redgate, Seb moved to the inside to make the pass but Vernon turned in for the corner and the ensuing contact resulted in the Fortec car spinning into a bitterly disappointing retirement in the gravel on the outside of the corner.
In round 11, Seb started third on the grid and made a superb getaway to take second but the action was quickly halted by red flags due to an incident further back on the grid. At the re-start, Seb had to stop his car from creeping on the line and so couldn’t replicate his earlier launch, slipping to fourth.
Pushed back to fifth on lap five at Redgate, he remained there throughout but did almost shade Josh Webster on the line for fourth on the final lap – missing out by a mere 0.009 seconds. With two races remaining this season, Seb is fourth in the driver standings just 15 points shy of the top three.
There are seven long weeks to wait until the finale of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, rounds 13 and 14, which will take place at Silverstone National Circuit – in support of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – over the weekend 6th/7th October.