Top-4 finish for 2 Seas Motorsport in Kyalami eSports season finale
2 Seas Motorsport continues to build on an impressive debut season of competitive racing with a headline performance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.
- Ben Barnicoat narrowly misses out on a podium result to complete the season and secure P2 in the overall championship standings
- Isa Al-Khalifa secures his best result of the season despite carrying damage from the opening lap
- Wildcard entry Angus Fender qualifies the team’s third McLaren on the second row on his series debut
2 Seas Motorsport has completed its debut championship with a top-four finish at the final round of the SRO E-Sport GT Series Championship held at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa. The result sees the newly-established team take runners-up honours in its debut campaign. Strong pace from the three entries saw 2 Seas Motorsport finish both the qualifying session and race as the top-performing McLaren Customer Racing entry in the Assetto Corsa Competizione-based series. The result saw Ben Barnicoat’s challenge for the championship finish with a P4 finish, while teammate Isa Al-Khalifa continued to impress with his driver development, claiming a season-best P17.
Angus Fender, who will race with 2 Seas Motorsport in the 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship, made a wildcard entry in to the championship’s finale and immediately impressed. His qualifying result secured P4 for the race, and the best-placed McLaren on the grid. Ben Barnicoat arrived at the fifth and final round of the inaugural E-Sport GT Series Championship third in the standings overall, after claiming a race victory and P2 earlier in the season. The results would have had to go the way of the young British driver for him to claim the overall title but, while he was still in contention, he continued to push hard. A challenging qualifying session saw him on row eight of the grid in P16, while season-long teammate Isa Al-Khalifa lined up in P23.
The start of the race saw mixed fortunes for Angus in the #67 and Ben in the #99. The initial pace over the opening laps saw Angus running as high as P2 before he suffered heavy contact, dropping him down the order. Ben also made a blistering start, working hard to avoid a number of multi-car incidents, and quick reactions saw him solidly in the top-10 by the end of the opening lap, and he was running as high as P5 by the end of lap 2. Isa also made a well-judged and bold start as the Bahraini driver pushed in to the top-20 despite being hit and sustaining damage on the opening lap.
As the frantic opening to the race began to calm, Ben settled in to his rhythm at the wheel of the McLaren 720S GT3 in P6, pushing to maintain the gap to the lead pack, including the championship leader. Despite his early setback, Angus also continued to push and started to work his way through the field and recovered to running closely with Isa in the top-20. However, another non-fault incident on lap 6 saw further damage sustained to the #67 McLaren, putting him two laps behind the leaders and out of contention.
As the race approached mi-distance, Ben moved back up to P5 and he started to work on reeling in the lead pack. With a clear track in front, he caught up to fellow McLaren-associated driver Michael O’Brien and, as the race entered the second 30 minutes, Ben moved up to P4 to enable one last charge on the title with the championship leader now just five seconds up the road. The following laps saw the #99 McLaren steadily closing the gap to the final podium position, but despite his best efforts, Ben was unable to make a move before the hour mark was reached and the chequered flag dropped for the final time, crossing the line just 0.2 seconds behind the eventual championship winner. The result sees Ben claim P2 in the championship for 2 Seas Motorsport.
Isa also pushed hard to the flag at the wheel of the #383 McLaren, and at the end of the fifth hour of racing in the championship scored his best result in P17. The development through the season has been clear with each event, and the Bahrain driver has steadily improved with each race moving up the order while gaining important racecraft on some of the world’s most challenging circuits against the top names in the sport.
Isa Al-Khalifa, 2 Seas Motorsport team co-owner and #383 McLaren 720S GT3 Driver.
“It has been a hugely intense and challenging season, and this race delivered more of the same from start to finish. Huge congratulations to Ben for taking P2 in the championship on his eSports debut. He has driven brilliantly all season, and Angus also showed his skill and speed this weekend. My race was slightly compromised by the damage I picked up on the first lap, but I managed the condition of the car and kept out of trouble for the rest of the race – which was a challenge in itself with all the action going on throughout the field – and I am really pleased to have scored my best finish of the season. The focus now switches for the team and testing starts in the next few weeks before we get back racing, and it is going to be an exciting season for us”
Ben Barnicoat, 2 Seas Motorsport #99 McLaren 720S GT3 Driver.
“Overall, it was a fantastic race weekend and hugely proud of the result we have achieved today, and the season as a whole. Qualifying for this event was a struggle as my preparations were not as thorough as they have been in previous races, and that was shown in the result lining up in P16. However, race pace was fantastic from the very start and the car set up was extremely strong which allowed me to progress up through the field and take P4.
I am really happy with how things have progressed on my eSports debut and proud to have taken P2 in the championship for 2 Seas Motorsport. I couldn’t have achieved the results without the support of the whole team and I would like to thank Isa and Nick Cristofaro, along with the team manager Mark Chittenden and my engineer Xavi Ramon. We have had a couple of difficult races over the season, but we have also secured some extremely strong results which were truly a team effort.
Finally, I’d like to thank Angus for his help this week – he has been a real help and support, covering a lot of testing mileage and working on the set up with the team, and he was unlucky not to get the good result he deserved. I am now really looking forward to getting back out on track and repeating the successes we have seen these past few weeks"
Angus Fender, 2 Seas Motorsport #67 McLaren 720S GT3 Driver.
“Entering as a wildcard for the final round of the championship, and being able to pit myself against the best of the best, was a really exciting prospect for me. Qualifying was more than I could have hoped for, ending the session just over a tenth of a second from pole position to take P4, all on my series debut. However, the race didn’t go quite so well unfortunately. I knew the 2 Seas Motorsport 720S GT3 had great race pace, and I made a strong start moving into P3 at turn 1 and then up to P2 a lap later.
However, at the next corner I received a tap which dropped me down to P19. Then a couple laps later, another tangle took me out of the race altogether. It was a huge shame especially after the highs of qualifying, but sometimes this happens in racing and it was a lot of fun just being on the grid in the first place! Now I have the long-awaited return to the real racetracks as testing starts again soon. I can’t wait"
With the conclusion of the inaugural E-Sport GT Series Championship, the focus for 2 Seas Motorsport now shifts back to real-world racing.
The team will continue to run simulator work with each of its drivers, and the team will be out on track later this month as part of a dedicated and intensive programme ahead of the start of the revised 2020 season.