Rolex 24 rookie Seb Morris left an impression on the famous twice-round-the-clock encounter at Daytona International Raceway in Florida with a memorable performance behind the wheel of the No.31 Cadillac DPi-VR prototype.
Competing as part of the crack Action Express Racing squad alongside Eric Curran, Dane Cameron and Mike Conway, and having been awarded the drive as his prize for winning last year’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge, the Chester racer more than played his part during the demanding encounter.
Making marked progress during the build-up to the event, with the help of his vastly experienced team-mates and the crew at Action Express Racing, Morris turned heads during his maiden race Stateside and first ever twice-round-the-clock contest, leading the action during the early going.
Taking the lead of the race at the three-hour mark during his first stint on Saturday afternoon, when the 21-year-old returned to the contest for his second run later in the evening the heavens had opened and he revelled in the wet conditions, circulating at up to four seconds per lap quicker than his challengers.
Sadly, hopes of a potential podium finish faded as a result of a series of issues that struck the No.31 car, which eventually took sixth in class and 14th overall.
“I think it’s been the most hectic week of my life in terms of the preparation, the intensity of everything and just what you have to do while you’re in the car,” said Morris, a former Abbey Gate College and King’s School, Chester student.
“It’s so different to anything I’ve done, you’re constantly talking to the team, in open dialogue with the spotters around the track, and there is so much to concentrate and focus on. It’s incredibly demanding mentally.
“As I learned during practice, by the time I got to the race I’d ironed out any little mistakes. There has been so much to learn, and so much still to learn, but everything went as well as I could have hoped and the team did an amazing job, they’re so professional.”
Morris, who hails from Marford, added: “I think the team could see I was going to play the team game from the outset, they only needed to offer me two hours in the car in practice but I got double that.
“I can’t thank all of the guys enough, everyone at Action Express and Whelen, Anders [Hildebrand] at Sunoco, Dan Chapman and Andy Meyrick for the guidance and support, a massive thank you to all of the people involved.”
Qualifying second fastest for the 55th Rolex 24, the No.31 Cadillac was started by Cameron and he moved into the lead toward the end of the opening hour before staying behind the wheel after the first round of stops.
Morris then climbed aboard for the start of a lengthy triple stint, the quality of which belied his status as a Rolex 24 newcomer.
Holding second place when a Full Course Yellow cautionary period was called following an incident, when the action resumed at the start of the third hour race leader Jeff Gordon, and multiple Nascar Champion, was involved in a tangle with a car emerging from pitlane.
Happily sweeping past into the lead of the race, Morris immediately pulled away and built up an advantage of more than 20 seconds as the contest entered hour four.
While misfortune ultimately spoiled the team’s hopes, the experience gained will stand the MSA Team UK driver in good stead.
“It was the race of my life, the week of my life, and I’ve never had so much fun,” reflected Morris.
“Hopefully my performance has helped to raise my stock for whatever we do next, leading the 24 can’t have done me any harm!”