2 Seas Motorsport kicks off the 2021 season with Bahrain Gulf 12H victory on home soil
Bahrain – Sat 9th Jan 2021 – 2 Seas Motorsport put on a show of strength at the Gulf 12 Hours Bahrain to score a convincing victory with Isa Al Khalifa, Ben Barnicoat and Martin Kodri?. With the team making its endurance race debut, the Pro line-up proved to be the class of the field at the Bahrain International Circuit, controlling both six-hour races and leading the majority of the race despite managing a technical concern approaching mid-distance.
After showing huge promise during qualifying and in the opening stint, the sister McLaren 720S GT3 of Lewis Williamson, Ed Jones and Dylan Pereira was forced to retire in the early stages due to a technical issue.
After a dominant qualifying which saw the Bahraini-British team lockout the front row, the early laps of the race saw McLaren Factory Driver Ben Barnicoat maintain the lead and build a strong buffer to the chasing pack and he and his teammates didn’t look back as they worked to extend the lead on almost every lap over the first five hours. Behind, the run to turn 1 saw Lewis squeezed wide and he took up P4, but quicker pace meant he was immediately pushing for a top-3 position. In less than five laps, a well-calculated move saw Lewis up to P3 and, running in clear air, he quickly caught P2 and made a drama-free pass to see 2 Seas Motorsport running 1-2 strongly on home turf. However, the strong pace was short-lived as Lewis was forced to pit after 26 laps with what turned out to be a terminal engine issue spelling the end of the race for the promising Pro line-up.
The next three hours saw Isa Al Khalifa make his long-awaited race debut with the team, and he was immediately on the pace of his teammates. Working with Ben and Martin to stretch their lead, the all-Pro trio eventually pulled out a full lap advantage over the entire field running comfortably as the quickest car on track in each stint. This advantage proved hugely beneficial in the closing stages of the first 6-hour event when a technical concern looked like it could undo all the team’s hard work. Two unscheduled pit stops were taken as a precaution and, with little under 60-minutes remaining until the chequered flag, it was Ben who would take the charge to the competition as he returned to the track in P4. His final stint saw him move the #33 McLaren back up the order, retaking the lead with 10 minutes on the clock and going on to build up close to a 30-second lead with the quickest lap of the race before the chequered flag flew for the first time at the six-hour mark.
Following the break, the grid formed up again with Ben once again taking the start to lead the field away for the second half. From here, the drivers maintained their pace, determination and composure as they started to rebuild a lead which was never in jeopardy. With the sun setting and the track temperature dropping, lap-times continued to improve and Isa, Ben and Martin focused on the job in hand counting down the laps under the floodlights. After Ben posted the quickest lap of the opening six hours, Martin then took the honours in the second half of the event to complete the clean sweep for the weekend with pole position, two fastest laps and race victory. At the end of 12 hours, the #33 McLaren 720S GT3 completed 341 laps with a winning margin of over 2 minutes.