TINCKNELL REMAINS IN ELMS TITLE FIGHT DESPITE SECOND CONSECUTIVE NON-PODIUM FINISH
Harry Tincknell heads to the final round of the European Le Mans Series next month knowing he faces a battle to wrest the title from his rivals after placing fifth in Belgium today (25 September). The Briton remains second in the standings but now 13-points behind the championship leaders with only one race in Portugal to go and with a maximum of 26-points on offer in what is now only a “two-horse” race for championship honours.
The Gibson 015S-Nissan of Tincknell/Simon Dolan/Giedo van der Garde took the chequered flag over 5mins behind the race winner under Full Course Yellow conditions in the 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – the trio in contention for at least a podium if not race victory until an unfortunately timed pit-stop. Tincknell, who had finished first (2015) and second (2014) in the LMP2 sports-prototype category of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa for JOTA Sport, took over the Gibson with 70mins to run placed ninth.
Harry had qualified an excellent third on the 39-car grid the previous day while Van der Garde started the race followed by stints in the car by Dolan before Harry’s turn at the wheel – the “Mighty38” having been placed first (before pitting to Dolan on 75mins), first and ninth after the first, second and third hour mark – the race run in warm sunshine until light rain briefly fell for the final 30mins. “Tinks” had sliced his way impressively up to fifth with 25mins to run but a stop for a splash of fuel relegated Harry to an unrepresentative fifth at the chequered flag. Before the final round of the ELMS in Portugal, Tincknell competes in Round 7 of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Japan on 16 October. Tincknell will drive the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT in the 6 Hours of Fuji. Harry has previously only been to Japan on one occasion, racing a kart at Suzuka in 2007.
“I’m absolutely gutted! We went from a near certain rostrum finish and closing the gap in the title race, if not re-taking the lead, to finishing a lowly fifth and leaving us with a battle on our hands at Estoril. That said the title can only be won by two teams now as we’ve pulled a gap on the third-placed crew so we’re in there to fight another day. We had a number of problems in practice including electronics and suspension issues which restricted our running as well as contact with another car. But qualifying was really good, the Gibson was awesome. I was fastest in the middle sector where all of the corners are, but we’re 7kph down on the straight compared to the Coupés so lost out in Sectors 1 and 3. Giedo did a great job at the start and Simon continued the good work. But unfortunately he pitted for fuel and tyres just as the race went ‘green’ with 90mins remaining after a prolonged Safety Car period to repair barriers. We’d led much of the race but the timing of the race getting underway again as Simon came down the pit lane cost us a likely victory/rostrum. He came out in sixth, in heavy traffic, and did really well under intense pressure but lost a fin from the right side of the car’s nose after contact with another car then had a quick spin at the last corner. But we’re still in with a fighting chance and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing.
“Next up is WEC and I can’t wait to race at Fuji. Macau is the only time I've ever previously raced a car in Asia and I have good memories from there. I love the food and the culture and racing at a new track. Fuji looks like it should suit the Ford GT and it will be another F1 track that I've driven at even if that was a few years ago. I'm going to do a lot of work on the simulator so that I am as prepared as possible and then will give it everything to get us back on the podium. We've been close the past couple of races and now we need to step up and really get some good results in the final three WEC races.”