The Intelligent Money British GT Championship headed to the Algarve for its annual overseas race event, as 2 Seas Motorsport looked to build on a strong opening half of the season. James Cottingham and Jonny Adam would eventually convert a front row start into a third race win of the season for the pair.
Starting in extremely warm conditions, the pair knew they faced a challenge for a strong result, with a 15 second success penalty to serve after their podium result at the last event. James held position off the start, but both were looking to make the necessary progress in the early stages, and the top-three pulled out a gap to the chasing pack before an early Safety Car intervention saw the team make a strategy call to switch for the pro drivers. Jonny rejoined the track, running behind the pole-sitting McLaren.
A further Safety Car period, just after the 30 minute mark, gave the team had a chance to switch the drivers back, and James and Ian were reinstated to continue the battles. Quick work by the team got the cars in a lap ahead of the others in the lead pack, and then the race ran under caution for an extended period with the order now very mixed up as strategies were in play. James was wasting no time when the track went back to green, and the restart lap saw him firmly engaged in the fight for position ahead. A bold move around the outside of two cars lasted several corners, and saw the #4 DK Engineering-backed Mercedes-AMG gain a position before having to drop into line at the end of the long start-finish straight. Undeterred, he continued the fight over the following lap and eventually made the pass, before issues for cars in the lead pack would see him progress back into the podium positions.
James was quickly on to the back of the race leader, and became engaged in a multi-lap battle, as he looked to find a way past. After several efforts, a well-judged move started around the outside of turn 11, and sheer determination made the pass stick as he exited turn 13 to take the race lead. From here, James set out building a gap to minimise the effects of the success penalty, which would be served at the next pitstop.
The team was the first to pull the trigger among the leaders, on the final round of pitstops, with Jonny back in for the final stint. James’ pace in his closing laps had pulled out a gap which more than offset the success penalty, meaning the #4 was still in a strong position.
Still holding the lead, Jonny managed the final restart well, pulling away from the chasing pack. The pro drivers were both on the front foot and Jonny posted the #4’s quickest lap of the race. At the line, Jonny was 4 seconds clear of the battling pair behind.
The result saw Jonny claim a record-equally 19th championship race win, now level with his teammate Phil Keen. This win extends the lead for him and James at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, while the points scored across the two cars leave 2 Seas Motorsport needing just six points to secure the Teams’ title, with two rounds to go.
“An amazing result. This was probably the race I was most apprehensive about for the whole season, as it is a very technical track, and I was aware of how tough the conditions would be with the heat. The whole team did a great job to give us a car with strong race pace. We were quick from the start, and immediately in the fight for the lead. Then our strategy window just opened when the Safety Car came out, which we managed to play to our advantage. It was great to be able to make some progress on the restart, and then the battle for the lead, but I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I eventually made the move stick, and could then just get my head down and focus on giving us the best possible chance to overcome the success penalty. Jonny then did what Jonny does, delivering another great drive to score a fantastic result, and we had a clean run and kept out of trouble. A big thank you to 2 Seas Motorsport for giving us such a strong car, and a huge congratulations to Jonny on his milestone result. “
James Cottingham, #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3, 2 Seas Motorsport