Rising star Seb Morris has his eyes firmly set on winning the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship, as the 15 year old returns to the series for a second year, once again run by Hillspeed. thecheckeredflag.co.uk spoke with Seb at the recent Ginetta Media Day to chat about his experiences last season and the new campaign ahead.
Last season saw Morris graduate into the series after three years in karting. With it being his first season in car racing, the year was a real learning curve for him, as he explains: “I was trying to learn all the tracks and the characteristics of the car. Basically how fast the car can go around the corners and what to do if it slides, basic stuff like that and just knowing the hints and tricks behind the circuits and how they all work.
“Towards the end of the season I was really getting to grips with the car and the car wasn't driving me, I was driving the car, so it felt a lot easier for me and wasn't scared of being on the limit. It just really came to me and then the Winter Series was when last year's car and driver package was at its peak.”
That extra confidence in the car allowed Morris to work his way up the order over the year. This resulted in a great result of fourth at Knockhill, followed by his first podium finish at Donington Park in Round 18, which Seb admits was his highlight of the season: “It's got to be the podium at Donington, which I was so ecstatic about. What no one knows is that my steering rack was completely broken so I actually had a big chance of winning the race, but it was sliding down the straight and I was losing about a second a lap. That's why I was dropping back, so I would have had a chance to win the race but I was very happy to settle for third.”
Morris' year reached its peak when he competed in the Ginetta Junior Winter Series at Pembrey in November. The youngster took two victories and a second place in four races to take the crown, though admits it wasn't as straight forward as it seemed: “Even though we did win it, we had a lot of ups and downs. Because we were so fast, the mentality was kind of 'well I'm really good, get out my way'. I actually spun in one of the races, so instead of winning it on the first day which we could have done, I had to do well in the other two races, which put a bit more pressure on, which taught me a lot. We really had the car and the package, so it was good.”
Morris, who is receiving continued backing from Liberty Properties Plc., admits his preparations for the new campaign haven't gone as smoothly as he'd hope: “It's gone okay. But because I'm not 16, I can't do general test days so I have to do track days. I have to go out with lots of people in their everyday road cars which can be quite tedious, because some of them go quite slow. It's quite good for the overtaking techniques, but as soon as you get a clear lap you have to go for it. We've not had quite as much testing as we'd like but that's the same for everyone so were just doing the best we can.”
2011 sees a couple of tweaks to the Ginetta G40 Junior model, changes which Morris is a fan of: “I like the new changes they've made with the gearbox and the cut slick tyres. It's brought it towards me a bit because I drove a Formula Renault when I was 13 and I was only 0.2 seconds off James Theodore who finished third in the championship. That was on slicks and sequential so I like the changes and they should be good for the season, so I'm looking forward to it.”
Over the winter, Morris, like many young drivers, has had to face the tricky task of juggling his testing commitments with his school work; a job he admits is tough: “I have to do a lot of work at home to keep on top of all my school work. Mr Ramsey, Head Master at the Kings School, Chester, is very supportive of my racing and I'm very, very grateful for that”.
After his success towards the end of last season and in the Winter Series, Morris is clear with his goals for the new campaign: “Obviously I want to win the championship and I'll try anything to achieve that goal. I've been working on my fitness off the track and I'm trying as hard as I can to be the best I can and achieve the goal of winning the championship.
The Ginetta Junior Championship has become synonymous with close, exciting racing over the years and Morris knows he will have many rivals to overcome if he is to win the title: “There are a few very good new drivers that are coming into the championship and obviously a few that have stayed. I'm not sure yet who's up there as I haven't looked at any times or anything. We haven't had enough time on track to see whose good and who's bad, but obviously whoevers good enough to fight at the top deserves to be there.”
With Seb entering his second and probably final year in the series, he briefly looked ahead to what his future after Ginetta Juniors could hold: “We haven't got a definite next step yet, but there are a lot of possibilities as to what we could do. Maybe Formula Renault BARC, Formula Renault UK or maybe a series elsewhere, Abarth, Formula BMW, we're not sure yet. It's really whatever sponsorship opportunities we can get. I would also be happy going into tin top racing, anything that allows me to earn a career out of it, and have fun doing what I love best!”