A tough but successful Spa 24 hours debut for 2 Seas Motorsport

July 2, 2024
GT World Challenge Europe
Race Report
2 Seas Motorsport successfully signed off Spa Speedweek, finishing the centenary running of the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa in P5 as the Gold Cup campaign continued. The result for Isa Al Khalifa, Lewis Williamson, Martin Kodric and Mercedes-AMG junior driver, Frank Bird, was a hard-fought effort in some of the toughest racing conditions, and was another impressive effort by Bahraini-British team as they continue their debut Fanatec GT World Challenge efforts.

Fresh from victory last weekend in the British GT Championship, the 2 Seas Motorsport team readied the #60 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the second round of the endurance series, with changeable weather expected over the various days of running. Events kicked off with the parade event, which saw the full grid of xx cars drive from the circuit to the local Spa town for fans to get a much closer look at the cars. Action then got underway on track on Thursday, in hot conditions, with a busy day of running.

Pace looked strong, as the quartet of drivers cycled through the test and set up programme, in readiness for the four-stage qualifying session. With laptimes combined, the #60 entry narrowly missed out on a top-20 grid position overall, but firmly in the fight and P6 in the Gold Cup. Further sessions followed qualifying, including a first outing for the team at night, with improvements made as final preparations were confirmed ahead of the race start.

The centenary edition of the race got underway in warm conditions, and the 2 Seas Motorsport entry more than proved competitive in the opening stages. Running cleanly in the pack, Martin made a clean start and, after an early caution period, he made good progress in the opening stint. The team settled into a rhythm well, and Isa made his 24 Hours of Spa race debut just before the start of the second hour. He completed a solid stint as the skies started to darken and cloud over, running well in P5 in class, just inside the top-30 as the wider grid order settled.

Rain made a first appearance during Lewis’ first stint, just before the three-hour mark and, while it wasn’t heavy enough to require a change to wet tyres, the 7.004km circuit gradually became more greasy, and caused several incidents. Multiple full course yellow cautions followed, but the team continued its own programme, working quickly and efficiently, and the drivers chipped away with consistently strong laptimes, to steadily climb the order. Such was this progress, that Lewis had moved inside the overall top-20 by the fifth hour, closing in on class podium, and by the end of the following hour, the #60 led the Gold Cup class, and battling for the top-10 overall.

With the Ardennes Forest now in darkness, the intensity of the rain began to increase, causing further incidents. With pitstops paying out, Lewis maintained a steady head and quick laptimes, captitalising on the opportunities, and the team moved as high as P4 in the overall standings as Frank made his first outing on to the track. Shortly after this change, an extended Safety Car period ran through to the early hours, with conditions showing little sign of improvement.

The race finally got back to green flag running in the 10th hour, with extremely tricky conditions for the drivers to manage. Still running well, at the front of the field, the team were in good shape before front-end contact was made due to the extremely slippery conditions in the first sector. Frank was able to bring the car back to the pitlane, and the team quickly set about fixing the damage, but ultimately dropped out of contention as the repairs continued. Undeterred, a slightly battle-scarred #60 Mercedes-AMG GT3 reemerged from the garage with 13 hours remaining, and the four drivers set about recovering some lost ground.

While a possible class podium was now no longer a likely result as the grey skies made way for daylight, the whole team delivered a faultless display as they pushed on towards the chequered flag later that afternoon. Progress was made up the overall order throughout the day, and as the race concluded, 2 Seas Motorsport crossed the line P5 in the highly competitive Gold Cup, and recovered to P42 overall.

Unbelievable. Just an incredible few days, with a fantastic team of people, and I am so proud of every single person involved in helping us get to the end of our first 24 hour race. The pace was great all weekend, Lewis, Martin and Frank did a top job, and we showed that we can mix it with the very best. We came here expecting a huge challenge – which it was – but we also proved that we can run at the top level, and we were leading the class on merit and pure pace.
“You need a bit of luck in endurance racing, and we were really unfortunate with the contact during the early hours, but everyone pulled together, dug deep and showed the resilience and determination that motorsport really is a champion of. From there it took the pressure off, in terms of fighting at the front, so we could just run our own race and focus on bringing it home, and I am so incredibly proud that we have delivered and taken a result on our debut, at one of the most demanding races in the world. I just know that we want to come back, and to do even better in the future!
Isa Al Khalifa, 2 Seas Motorsport team co-owner and driver, #60 Mercedes-AMG GT3.

The team now heads back to the UK after a busy fortnight in Belgium, preparing for rounds 6 and 7 of the British GT Championship, 16-17 July.

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