Double top for 2 Seas Motorsport at British GT season opener
A busy opening race weekend for 2 Seas Motorsport saw the team claim a pair of pole positions, converting them to double race victories. It was so much more than just a simple light-to-flag result for the #1 and #4 Mercedes-AMGs, however, as the British GT championship delivered two action-packed events in tricky, mixed conditions, for the Bank Holiday crowd at Oulton Park. The first victory of the weekend, for James Cottingham and Jonny Adam, marked the latter’s 100th series race start in style, while it was the perfect end to the weekend for reigning champion Ian Loggie and his teammate Jules Gounon.
A bumper Saturday of track running saw the boldly liveried DK Engineering #4, and the retro-inspired D2 liveried #1 share the spoils during the two qualifying sessions. A particularly impressive performance by James Cottingham in the first session set an early benchmark for the field, before further improvements strengthened his grip on pole position for his co-driver’s milestone race. Ian also delivered a strong performance to line-up just 0.3s behind his teammate, on row 2.
The Pro qualifying session followed, with the two 2 Seas entries firmly in the mix once again, as Jules and Jonny battled at the front. This time, however, the roles were reversed, as Jules powered the #1 to the top of the timesheets, breaking the lap record in the process of securing pole position.
Race 1, and Jonny’s landmark 100th, was set to become one of the championship’s most action-packed, and the weather played a major part from the very start. With a wet, but drying, circuit and the threat of rain, there was a decision to be made over slick or wet tyres for the Am drivers to start on. With the majority of the front-runners opting for wets, the race got underway, and James wasted no time in pulling a gap to the chasing pack, running in clean air. Ian, meanwhile, also made strong progress to move into P2 by the end of the opening lap. The pair continued to lead the field, and James successfully held position and opened up a further gap as drivers struggled in the slippery conditions. With the pitstop window open, and a dry line appearing, despite frequent showers during the opening stint, Ian pitted for Jules to take over, while, a lap later, Jonny jumped in to take over the lead of the race from James.
With both crews quickly serviced, and now back out on track running on slick tyres, the pace initially increased as the lead battle started to intensify. A Safety Car period brought the field back together, but Jonny managed the restart well, and worked to build a gap once again when the race went back to green flag conditions. However, as the minutes counted down, the rain also started to build, and the grip levels began to drop. Inside the last 10 minutes, Jonny was engaged in a three-car battle for the lead, while Jules was chasing the trio down fast. As the rain intensified, so did the racing, and Jonny showed all his experience to keep the #4 DK Engineering-backed Mercedes-AMG on the tarmac, while defending hard from the chasing pair. One final defensive act through the last corner saw Jonny run wide, but his opponent also struggled for traction, and Jonny was able to power his way to his 17th championship victory, and start the team’s 2023 campaign in the best possible form. Jules also continued his battle, and narrowly missed a podium finish, closing the gap to just 0.02s at the line.
Weather looked to be another major factor for Race 2 later in the day, as rain continued to fall intermittently over Oulton Park. Jules took the start from pole, while Jonny made a clean getaway from the third row, but would have to overcome a 10s success penalty following the race 1 result. A masterclass of wet weather driving saw Jules open a commanding lead over the field during his stint, holding off fierce battle from his fellow AMG factory driver, Marciello. Pitting from the lead, Ian took over and set about extending the gap, while Jonny made way for James, who immediately set about recovering the time served in the pitstop. Such was his pace in the challenging wet conditions that he gained three positions in quick succession, now looking to close the gap to the final podium spot.
As the minutes counted down, the pair were lapping as the two fastest cars on track. Ian, untroubled at the front of the field, continued to pull away with a comfortable margin. The #4 DK Engineering-backed entry closed the gap ahead, setting up a grandstand finish as the race entered its last lap. What had been a gap of more than 20s as the pitstops played out, closed to less than 1s as the flag fell. At the line, Ian secured a second win for the team, while James came home in P4.
“An amazing result for the team, and both driver pairings over the weekend. Two poles, two lights-to-flag victories, and we helped play a part in Jonny’s amazing milestone achievement. The whole team showed what we are capable of, and it was great to watch the battles and effort that everyone put in. I’m not sure I can take a full season of racing like we have seen today, especially the end of Race 1, but it was great to see both driver pairings fighting at the front, showing our intent straight out of the blocks. It has set things up nicely with a high benchmark for the season, and really looking forward to seeing what happens at Silverstone for the next round.”
Sh. Isa Al Khalifa, team co-owner, 2 Seas Motorsport
With both cars claiming a victory and a P4 result across the two events, the team secured the inaugural ‘team of the weekend’ award from the series organisers, the SRO, and now leads the overall championship. Alongside this, the drivers jointly sit at the top of the standings. Race 3 of the championship, the Silverstone 500, takes place 6-7 May.