Championship charge continues for 2 Seas Motorsport at Snetterton
With the Intelligent Money British GT Championship reaching middle distance for 2023, it was another double header for 2 Seas Motorsport, as the calendar headed to Snetterton. The first race would see the cars battling to overcome success penalties, both fighting to a top-8 finish, while the second race delivered one of the most exciting battles in the championship’s history. At the flag, James Cottingham claimed P2, just 0.042s off the win, with Ian Loggie showing dogged determination to mount a fight back, taking the final podium spot.
Off the back of a win and podium in Donington Park, both driver pairings were carrying success penalties for the opening race. Despite this, the #1 driver duo of Ian and Jules Gounon, and #4 line-up of James and Jonny Adam were positive and looking for strong results to keep the championship challenge on target. With two races over the weekend, qualifying saw the Am drivers set the grid for race 1, while the pros battled it out for the line-up for race 2. James delivered another impressive performance, immediately going quickest and then proceeding to further extend his advantage over the following laps to score provisional pole position. Having taken pole position and the race win 12 months earlier, Ian would line up for race 1 just outside the top-10, in P11. A post-session penalty after an incident in an earlier session would reshuffle the order, and move James back to P6.
A strong start by both cars saw positions gained, and Ian now running well inside the top-10. James was fighting hard at the front, showing his pace from qualifying and looking to make inroads on the lead pack, firmly engaged in battles throughout his stint. As the pit window opened, the tight Snetterton pitlane became incredibly busy as the GT3s came in to switch drivers. James handed over to Jonny with the success penalty for the race win to serve, while Jules took over and served the additional time after finishing P3 last time out.
With both cars fully serviced and the team sending them on their way, the Pro driver immediately set about recovering the lost ground, making up positions on the opening laps of the stint. This pace continued, as the two Mercedes-AMGs made steady progress up the order. Action ahead also played a part, with two cars hit with pitstop penalties. This good fortune plus consistent, quick times saw Jonny cross the line in P6, with Jules coming home P8, as both completed impressive recovery drives.
The Pro qualifying session saw a change of order for the two 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3, with Jules initially setting the pace with Jonny only marginally behind his Factory Driver teammate. As the times continued to improve over the shootout, there was barely anything to separate the front-runners, and the session would end with Jules in P3, and Jonny only just behind in P7. Further changes to the order after the session would promote both cars by one position, moving Jules on to the front row, and Jonny in P6.
Race 2 of the weekend got off to a frenetic start, as the Pros battled at the front of the field. Jules quickly settled into his rhythm, setting the fastest lap of the race and breaking the lap record, as he battled for the race lead. Jonny held position from the start, but stayed out of trouble and moved up to P5 before bringing the yellow and green DK Engineering-backed Mercedes-AMG into the pitlane to hand over to James.
Clean stops for both drivers saw James elevated to P4, while Ian was immediately in the fight for position as he emerged from the pit exit in the lead. Running on new tyres, James quickly reeled in the leaders as they battled each other, closing down an 8-second gap over two laps.
Ian continued to defend hard, but eventually surrendered the lead after a bold move. James then took over the fight, as he made a pass on his teammate around the outside of turn 1, setting off for the lead. With four cars now engaged in the fight for the win, with 10 minutes remaining, the 2 Seas Motorsport pair traded positions and were a key part in one of the most entertaining and hard-fought battles the series has witnessed. James briefly moved into the lead over the start/finish line, as Ian was fighting hard for the final podium position.
With the clock running into its final moments as the quartet exited the final corner, James crossed the line separated by just 0.042s, expecting one final lap to mount an attack, with Ian only 0.3s behind the lead pair. Battles continued over the following corners, with James moving ahead and Ian losing a spot after further contact, before the race director signalled that the race had been called as they crossed the line, finalising a P2-P3 finish for the 2 Seas pair, and more valuable championship points.
“Overall, it was a hugely positive weekend for both sides of the garage. We always knew we were on damage limitation mode for race 1, managing success penalties, but it was unfortunate for James to be handed a penalty after such an impressive qualifying run to score pole. The second race was definitely one of the best races we have been involved in, and could have gone one of four ways at various points.
“The whole team did a faultless job to mean James and Ian were fully in the fight all the way to the line, and it was a great end to a strong weekend to chalk up a double podium, and more important points. We now head to Portimao, and the endurance events, which are a different challenge, so we are excited to still be in the fight and see what we can achieve with three rounds to go.”
Sh. Isa Al Khalifa, co-owner 2 Seas Motorsport
Round 7 sees the championship travel to Autodromo do Algarve, Portugal for its one international event, taking place 22-23 July.