The #33 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 survived a late-race mechanical scare to lead at the half way point of the 2021 Gulf 12 Hours Bahrain.
Having lost its sister #7 car to a turbo failure in the early stages of the race, Barnicoat helped to steer the car to a single-lap advantage over the nearest competition, with the #3 RAM Racing Mercedes AMG GT3, Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3, and Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 all at one stage leading the chasing pack.
The #72 Inception Racing with Optimum McLaren 720S GT3 was also within this field in the early stages, as Brendan Iribe battled fiercely with the #46 Monster VR46 Kessel car of Valentino Rossi. But Iribe was forced to pit with a brake bias issue which kept the car in the garage for the majority of the session, only briefly re-appearing in the closing stages before being retired at the interval.
Previous race-winning manufacturer Ferrari was struggling, however, with the #27 Kessel Racing Am car, that started from third place on the grid dropping back into the midfield.
It was joined by its sister #8 Ferrari 488 GT3 which was dogged with rear wing damage causing multiple spins and off-track moments that resulted in a black flag to return to the pits for repairs.
The #46 Monster VR46 Kessel car of Valentino Rossi, Luca Marini and Alessio Salucci were also struggling to keep up with those in front, with Marini ending the opening part of the race in fifth, but a lap down on the cars ahead.
The field was boosted however with less than an hour left, as Barnicoat, who took over from the impressive Isa Bin Abdulla Alkhalifa, suffered what could have been a serious issue.
Forced to significantly slow down, Barnicoat encountered gearshift issues in his McLaren, wiping his lap advantage away and handing the lead to the Dinamic Motorsport Porsche. It dropped Barnicoat to fourth overall before he managed to overcome the gremlin and manage any potential further problem.
The Porsche’s lead was short-lived, however, as Roberto Pampinini was unable to prevent the advances of Andy Meyrick’s Team Parker Bentley who eased past into Turn One with 30 minutes remaining.
The McLaren was quickly scything through the field. Barnicoat’s recovery drive thereon demonstrated the power and advantage of the McLaren. The British driver was soon past the RAM Racing Mercedes of Callum Macleod and four seconds per lap quicker than Pampinini who made Barnicoat’s life easier when he spun the car at Turn 13.
Barnicoat was already 2.5 seconds quicker than Meyrick and made little work of the former Bentley factory driver to regain the lead to the chequered flag.
The Bentley pitted in the closing minutes for a splash of fuel, dropping it to fourth as the RAM Mercedes finished second with Pampinini third.
The GT4 class was led by the #77 Optimum Motorsport McLaren 570S, having taken advantage of a 25-second Stop-and-Go penalty to long-time leader #90 Scuderia Villorba Corse Mercedes AMG for crossing the white line at pit exit on two occasions.
Jean-Luc D’Auria, who is competing in his first international race, impressed to keep the car in second place with the #50 SVC Sport Management Maserati in third, multiple laps down.
Photograph: Bahrain International Circuit