Harry Tincknell gets dream Audi DTM test
Up-and-coming British racing talent Harry Tincknell has just finished a dream two-day test with the Audi DTM team at the Monteblanco circuit in Spain.
Tincknell, 21, was one of the eight young talents tested by the Ingolstadt manufacturer as it assesses potential stars of the future for the DTM – the German touring car series that is arguably the world’s most competitive series outside Formula 1.
Although Tincknell’s mentor Allan McNish is a big hero for Audi, winning this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship, Harry’s test opportunity came not through this channel. Instead, as the leading Volkswagen-engined driver in this season’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship – in which he finished fifth overall – Tincknell won the test as a prize annually handed to the top two VW F3 aces.
The test came on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, meaning a frantic dash back from the Macau Grand Prix and an itinerary that included flights from Hong Kong to London Heathrow and then on to Seville. Tincknell then got to grips with the 460bhp, V8-engined Audi DTM machine while still jetlagged!
“It was a really good experience,” he said. “On the first day I did 10 laps on old tyres, a four-lap ‘qualifying’ run and then another eight-lap run, so it was a good day to get up to speed with it.
“There were some new experiences, new feelings, but I can see why people say that Formula 3 is very close to it, especially with the downforce and braking. It’s got a lot more power than the F3 car, so the driving style is more towards a World Series by Renault car, especially in low-speed corners, whereas in the F3 you would be carrying more minimum speed.
“On the second day I was able to get straight into it. We had a proper qualifying simulation run, a couple of sets of tyres and a mini-race run of 16 or 17 laps.
“It was funny – I got to the end of my race run and came into the pits, and felt quite sad that the test was over. I was just getting out of the car when they asked me to get in and do another race run!
“Although we use Hankook tyres in F3, the DTM Hankooks weren’t very similar at all. They are really peaky, which means that when we’ve been pounding round on a race run with older tyres it’s hard to find all the grip straight away on a new set.”
Factory Audi DTM drivers Timo Scheider and Adrien Tambay were on hand to set benchmark lap times before each young driver went out, although performance was kept secret by Audi personnel.
“I think it went well,” said Tincknell, “and I really enjoyed it. I kept it in one piece and did the best I could. Audi have already said they’re happy with their DTM line-up for 2014, but they’re involved across many levels of the sport. If nothing comes of it then I’ve had a great experience that money can’t buy, but if something does then that would be amazing, whether that’s in the DTM or in prototype sportscar or GT racing.”
We may be heading into late November, but there’s no let-up in Tincknell’s activities. After just a couple of days of rest, he heads off to the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain next Tuesday to contest the next round of the MRF Challenge, for Formula 3-style cars, supporting the World Endurance Championship finale.