2 Seas Motorsport retains Gulf 12 Hour title in Abu Dhabi
The #1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of 2 Seas Motorsport swept to Gulf 12 Hours victory at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi to secure back-to-back victories. Reigning champions Sh. Isa Al Khalifa, Martin Kodric and Ben Barnicoat delivered a commanding performance at the Yas Marina Circuit to repeat the dominant victory from 12 months ago, having previously taken outright victory on home soil in Bahrain. Alongside outright victory, the team also secured a further class podium as the sister Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Casper Stevenson, Ian Loggie and Morgan Tillbrook secured 3rd place in the hard-fought Pro-Am class, 4th overall.
Despite various setbacks in the lead up to the season-opening event, 2 Seas Motorsport arrived at the famous Formula 1 circuit off the back of a successful 2021 season, taking victories at each of the events contested. Confidence was strengthened by the early pace with the team topping the timesheets in each of the practice sessions going into qualifying. This performance continued as grid order shook out over three sessions with the two cars sharing the top spot, but ultimately it was the Pro class entry of Sh. Isa, Martin and Ben who came out on top to secure pole position, slightly ahead of their teammates in 6th place overall, 4th in class.
The first race saw the Pro-Am entry of Ian, Casper and Morgan pushing their teammates all the way to the end of the sixth hour. After moving through the field off the start and a Safety Car intervention before the first scheduled pitstops, the #66 entry had moved up the order and were the main competition for the trio running in the #1. Impressive pace, from Casper in particular, kept the pressure on up until middle distance, and the British youngster set the fastest lap of the first half of the event as he closed in on the race leader. Running on slightly different strategies then saw the #66 briefly move into the lead and as the pitstops played out the #1 would retake the position, leading a 2 Seas Motorsport 1-2 by a full lap over the chasing pack as the chequered flag dropped to conclude the first half of the event.
With the clock reset, the grid reformed, and the cars fully serviced, the second half got underway in the same frenetic way as the first. The lead pair continued to show strong pace but, running in clean air and benefitting from the setup changes made mid-race, the #1 extended its lead to a full lap. Still very much in the lead battle, the charge for the #66 was temporarily halted with just over 2 hours remaining when significant contact with a piece of debris caused damage to the splitter, forcing an unscheduled stop for remedial repairs which dropped them from the class lead. Shortly after this, the #1 car was also back into the pitlane unexpectedly for a brief precautionary mechanical inspection, but was quickly back out on track and continued to extend the lead into the closing stages.
The final laps saw 2 Seas Motorsport as consistently the fastest cars on track, and saw the hard work and determination pay off. An issue for one of the Pro-Am leaders, combined with consistently strong laptimes, saw the #66 in the position to regain the final step of the Pro-Am podium. As the clock reached 12 hours, 2 Seas Motorsport claimed a second Gulf 12 Hours title, and secured 3rd in the highly competitive Pro-Am class against a much more experienced field.
“I didn’t think it could get better than winning the Gulf 12 Hours on home soil, but somehow this victory feels even sweeter, knowing that we stepped up to the challenge, and delivered. We always knew it would be tough, and with the #1 on the car we had added pressure, but the team did an absolutely faultless job in the build-up and across the entire weekend to achieve this result. It is thanks to the efforts of all the crew in the garage and back at the workshop that we have been able to fight for the win with both cars.
“I’d also like to thank and congratulate Casper, Ian, and Morgan who did an amazing job, and delivered a fantastic result. It was great to have them join the 2 Seas Motorsport family for this journey. They pushed us all the way to the closing stages and a podium in the Pro-Am class is a huge result, against a really strong grid especially considering this was Casper’s first GT3 event and Morgan is still only in his first year of racing GT3s. A massive achievement, and we hope to see them all back racing with the team in the future."
Sh. Isa Al Khalifa, #1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver and team co-owner, 2 Seas Motorsport