Pole position and podium at Brands Hatch continues a strong season for 2 Seas Motorsport
The Intelligent Money British GT Championship continued to deliver as the season reached Brands Hatch and the penultimate round. Still fighting for the championship, season regulars James Cottingham and Lewis Williamson delivered another stand-out performance, claiming their first pole position of the season, before a success penalty in the race would see them fight back to finish just off the podium in P4. The pair were joined in the team’s second entry by Silver-Am pairing Andrew Howard and Chris Froggatt, racing along with the Sky Tempesta Racing crew. Early pace in the race went unrewarded after heavy contact resulted in a lengthy pitstop, but the team recovered during the second half of the two-hour endurance battle, making their way back up to finish on the class podium.
The DK Engineering-backed yellow and red #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 arrived at Brands Hatch having shown race-winning pace a few weeks previously, during the overseas event at Spa-Francorchamps. The outright speed was immediately evident over the opening sessions, once again, and qualifying would prove to be a closely fought battle at the front of the field. James delivered another strong performance to set the benchmark for the Am runners, while Lewis then extended the advantage at the top of the timesheets to take the team’s first pole position of the season. Andrew, making his debut with the team and in the Mercedes-AMG, also showed good one-lap pace in the #93 and, coupled with Chris, secured P4 in class, P13 overall.
With the sun shining over the Kent circuit, James took the start and held off initial pressure into Paddock Hill Bend, and he wouldn’t surrender the position for his entire stint. After initially dropping back, Andrew fought back in the opening laps and, as the first of four Safety Car periods was called, the #93 had progressed up to P3 in class, knocking on the door of the overall top-10.
James continued to dictate the pace over the first hour, maintaining position on each of the Safety Car restarts. Following the appeal result from the last round, the #4 would have to serve a 15-second success penalty during the stop. With this in mind, he continued to pull a gap to the chasing pack as he headed towards the pit window, looking to minimise the penalty. Meanwhile, Andrew had made further progress up the order but, with 20 minutes to go in his stint, he suffered heavy contact to the rear of the #93 Mercedes which resulted in a lengthy pitstop for remedial repairs. The team worked quickly to get the car back out, but dropped down the overall order before Chris took over and headed back out on track.
With the final Safety Car appearance just before the mid-point of the race, James’ lead had once again been neutralised, but he set the quickest lap of the opening stint just before pitting with a 2-second lead. With Lewis now strapped in and the success penalty now served, the #4 headed back out on track running in P5 and quickly on the pace. This was evidenced by setting the new fastest lap of the race as Lewis set about chasing down the leaders. After a busy, action-packed opening stint, the second hour ran without incident for the leaders, and the Safety Car didn’t make a further appearance. Battles continued, and Lewis worked hard to close the gap to the lead pack, but the pitstop penalty proved too much to overcome despite his strong pace.
Despite the earlier setback, Chris continued to push on, gradually climbing up the order as the stint progressed into the final stages. A technical issue for the Silver-Am championship-elect would drop them out of the running, and as Chris clocked in more laps, he eventually moved back into the podium positions in the final minutes to sign off the weekend.
A cruel final twist would see the race leader retire just a lap from the end, moving Lewis and James back up the order, and at the chequered flag they secured P4, just 1-second off the final podium spot, and keeping the championship hopes alive heading to the season finale.
“A bit of a mixed weekend, overall, but pace was definitely there for both cars and great to see James and Lewis finally take their first pole position of the season. They have been so close on a few occasions, but they delivered a stellar performance all weekend. The success penalty meant P4 was the best they could realistically achieve in the race, but they are still in the fight heading to Donington, and we keep fighting until the very end.
“It was really great to have Chris back with us for the weekend, and to give Andrew a first chance to experience the Mercedes-AMG. They were really unfortunate to suffer with damage in the early stages, as they had both looked good up until then, and they had a real opportunity for a strong result. The team did a great job to get the car fixed and back out, recovering to finish with a podium is proof as to why we never give up. We now have a busy few weeks of testing and preparation, getting ready for the final round where we won’t have to serve a success penalty, so still pushing to sign the season off with that first win.”
Isa Al-Khalifa, 2 Seas Motorsport co-owner
A coming together of two championship contenders in the opening stint remains pending with the stewards, so the final result is subject to change. As things stand, James and Lewis remain in the hunt for the GT3 title, holding P3 in the championship. The season deciding round 9 takes place at Donington Park over the weekend, 15-16 October.