PICTURES: The 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes team were in action in Abu Dhabi last weekend (Photo Piers Taylor/CJB Media)
The Vale-based 2 Seas Motorsport GT team scored a convincing victory in the 10th running of the Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Saturday writes James Beckett.
The team's number 1 Mercedes AMG GT3, driven by Isa Al Khalifa, Ben Barnicoat and Martin Kodric dominated the two-part race at the the track that hosted the thrilling 2021 FIA F1 World Championship finale, to run out winners ahead of the similar Mercedes AMG of SPS Automotive Performance racers Valentin Pierburg, Dominik Naumann and Christoph Lenz. The VR46 Ferrari 499 GT3 of David Fumanelli, Luca Marini and Alessio Salucci finished the race in third position.
Having scored a 1-2 finish in the opening six hours of the two-part race, 2 Seas Motorsport were hopeful of maintaining their dominant showing, but with just over two hours remaining in the overall competition the team's second-placed Mercedes driven by Ian Loggie, Morgan Tilbrook and GT3 debutant, Casper Stevenson, was forced to the pits for work to be carried out.
As the clock ticked down towards the chequered flag, the leading 2 Seas Mercedes was taken over by Martin Kodric, who raced to the flag to claim a popular victory for the team that also triumphed in the event last year. The race thus marked the continuation of victories for the British-Bahraini squad since swapping to Mercedes AMG cars - the last outing being victory in a British GT Championship race at Silverstone seven months ago.
Ben Barnicoat said afterwards, "This is a race I greatly enjoy. It may have looked easy for us, but it was certainly a challenge. I’ve never driven a Mercedes before this week, and you always have to push as much as possible as in endurance racing, you never know what may happen. The team did a great job to change all the brake callipers during the break between the first and second part, after we found one leaking. The interval isn’t a lot of time, and it’s also a risky thing to do - but the team did well. It was a big job.”
Casper Stevenson said after completing his GT3 race debut, “From my side there was a lot of preparation for this week. Throughout testing my times were very similar to Ben [Barnicoat] and Martin [Kodrić], but in qualifying, I felt we all took a step forward and the race another still."
Continuing, "Our car suffered damage early in the second half of the race, and so the lap times were sadly not there. But in the first half, everyone saw that we were the quickest car and fighting for the lead. It’s been an amazing weekend to learn so much, it’s been very different to what I’ve been used to in my career so far, and this gives me an indication of what it will be like in GT World Challenge Europe races later this year.”
*2 Seas Motorsport are scheduled to announce details of their full 2022 GT season shortly.