2 Seas Motorsport takes dramatic maiden victory at the Nürburgring

May 18, 2020
SRO eSports

2 Seas Motorsport secured a first-ever victory at the third round of the SRO E-Sport GT Series Championship 2020 at the Nürburgring.

McLaren Factory Driver Ben Barnicoat moved into the lead in the closing stages with the #99 McLaren 720S GT3 before a drag race to the finish line saw him take the first win of the season for him and the team by the narrowest of margins. The result sees Ben and 2 Seas Motorsport leading the inaugural Assetto Corsa Competizione-based championship with two rounds remaining.

After the challenging race in Spa-Francorchamps last time out, the team returned to running without any success ballast, and qualifying for the weekend’s one-hour race saw both 2 Seas Motorsport 720S GT3s perform well. Isa Al-Khalifa secured his best qualifying result of the season so far in P33 making his debut at the German grand prix circuit, while Ben ended the session with a second-row grid slot in P3.

As has been the case in the opening two rounds of the series, the race saw close action from the first corner with Ben looking to make a move immediately. The young Brit looked to maintain pressure on the leaders in to turn 1 which resulted in slight contact on the exit of the corner as he moved up to P2. From here, the 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren pulled away from the chasing pack with the race leader as the pair settled in to the race rhythm with Ben maintaining pressure while managing the condition of the tyres. Isa also looked to capitalise on the opening action and pushed hard to move up through the field. The Bahraini driver had progressed up to P23 by the end of the first lap, and he continued this charge in the opening phase of the race running as high as P17.

With 30 minutes remaining, Ben began to gradually reduce the gap to the leader with a string of consistently quick laps. Having managed the condition of his tyres in the opening half of the race, Ben was able to close the gap by 1.3 seconds over just two laps, putting him in a strong position going in to the closing stages and increasing the levels of pressure as the clock ticked down. Meanwhile, Isa was forced to retire from the race while running solidly in the top-20 and on target for his best result of the season so far.  

Having followed closely for a number of laps, Ben forced the leader into making a rare mistake which allowed a push for position with 10 minutes remaining. Ben then fought hard through the final corners of the 5.148km lap and took the lead as he started the new lap.

Over the following laps, Ben worked hard to soak up the pressure as the gap opened and closed around the circuit. Ben maintained the lead into the final lap as the clock reached the hour mark, placing his car perfectly at each point of the track and defending hard in places. With the gap less half a second, Ben was under constant pressure, but maintained his composure as he approached the final corner where he came under one final attack. As he exited the corner, it was a final sprint to the chequered flag, and the #99 720S GT3 crossed the line just 0.07s in front to claim a maiden victory for 2 Seas Motorsport in only the team’s third ever competitive event and the first eSports win for McLaren and the 720S GT3.

Isa Al-Khalifa, 2 Seas Motorsport team co-owner and #383 McLaren 720S GT3 driver.

“Another new track for me which presented more challenges, but a really positive weekend for me and the team overall. I felt much more confident and comfortable with the setup of the car this weekend, and my qualifying result was much improved from the last event.
It was also another crazy start to the race, but I managed to stay out of trouble and worked my way up the grid to running in the top 20. From here, I just looked to focus on my own race and set about gaining more experience of the car and the track. I was heading for my best result so far running just outside the top 20 but, unfortunately, I had some technical issues with the hardware later in the race which forced me to retire, but overall it was a hugely successful race.
I am absolutely delighted by the result for Ben, and to score the first win for 2 Seas Motorsport in only our third event is a huge achievement for the whole team.”

Ben Barnicoat, #99 McLaren 720S GT3 driver.

“That was tough! It was a great race, and really hard battling over the final laps, but I was so proud to be the top-qualifying McLaren against some really strong opposition, and then to have been able to take the first win for 2 Seas Motorsport. I changed my approach slightly for this weekend’s race, working hard and testing with Isa and the whole team to ensure the best outcome. I felt more confident with the setup of the car and it felt like we had made some big improvements straight away.
The race itself was a big challenge from the very start. After making some slight contact at the exit of turn 1 on the opening lap, I managed to maintain the gap to the leader and protect some life in the tyres which meant I could push slightly later.
With 10 minutes to go I didn’t think I had the pace to close in to force an attack, however one small mistake gave me a chance and I wasn’t going to let that pass me by.
From there, I was struggling as the tyres were dropping away with each lap, so it was a case of defending almost every corner, and I slowed slightly too much for the final corner which meant the sprint to the line was a bit closer than I would have liked!

The result sees 2 Seas Motorsport and Ben Barnicoat now leading the E-Sport GT Series Championship 2020 by nine points as the team prepares for round 4 of the calendar. Isa and Ben will return to action for the penultimate event at the Circuit de Barcelona- Catalunya on 30-31 May.