TINCKNELL'S EARLY CHARGE THROUGH FIELD ULTIMATELY COMES TO NO AVAIL
Harry Tincknell is already planning to retake the lead in the European Le Mans Series standings next month after the Briton lost his points advantage in France today (28 Aug). Tincknell, together with co-drivers Simon Dolan and Giedo van der Garde, ultimately brought their JOTA Sport operated G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S-Nissan home fifth in the 4 Hours of Le Castellet but only after a scintillating opening drive by Harry.
Tincknell now lies second eight-points adrift of the championship leaders marking the first time he has not topped the championship table since the trio's opening race victory at Silverstone in April but it was not from the want of trying on Harry's part who was in simply stunning form from the start of today's race. The Tincknell/Dolan/van der Garde Gibson lined-up ninth on the 40-car grid van der Garde unable to match Tincknell's front row Ricard starts from the past two years.
The 3.64-mile Paul Ricard track was bathed in hot sunshine on Sunday afternoon and Tincknell himself was in truly blistering race form. He was seventh on the completion of the opening lap, sixth after 10mins, fifth on 20mins and in to third place with less than 40mins on the clock after a mesmerising display. Harry made a scheduled pit-stop for fuel and tyres on 47mins but incredibly was in to second place just short of the first hour 15secs down on the leader. On 75mins, Tinks had brought the gap down to 10secs, his stunning stint coming to an end when he pitted from second place for Dolan on 90mins.
A Full Course Yellow caused by an on-track incident on 100mins effectively handed the race victory to Tincknell's main championship rivals. While Dolan and the rest of the field ran at the regulation 80kph, the race leader and ultimate race winner made its scheduled pit-stop under FCY conditions which allowed it to increase its lead to over a minute when all of the pit-stops had panned out. Dolan completed two good stints with van der Garde taking over with 45mins to run placed third. But agonisingly with just eight minutes remaining, van der Garde slipped to fourth and moments later down to fifth, Giedo finishing less than seven seconds away from a podium finish at the chequered flag.
Paul Ricard has not been a particularly happy hunting ground for Tincknell. Having finished fourth in 2014, Harry had taken the chequered flag first in the corresponding Ricard race last year but was ultimately classified third when organisers added a 45secs time penalty after his co-driver had exceeded the permitted driving time an unfortunate error that crucially cost Tinks last year's ELMS Driver's title. The last time Harry failed to finish outside the top-four was on his sportscar race debut at Silverstone in April 2014 when leader Dolan was involved in an accident causing retirement. The penultimate round of the ELMS is staged at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 25 September.
Mexico debut next on Tincknell's hectic race calendar.
Harry returns to FIA World Endurance Championship action next weekend (1-3 Sep) with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. Tinks will be making his race debut in Mexico driving the Ford GT in the 6 hours race around the high-altitude 2.67-mile Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
"It was fantastic to go from ninth to second in my stint really, really enjoyed making overtakes on the outside and inside. Hard racing at its best! I did the best possible job I could, I honestly couldn't have done anymore. So to only get a fifth place finish is massively disappointing. We possibly got our tyre strategy wrong that ultimately cost us a podium. It's makes our championship title hopes very difficult now so we must win at Spa, no question. As for next weekend's Mexico WEC race, I'm really looking forward to going there for the first time and I can't wait to see some of the city's culture. I watched the Formula One Grand Prix on television from there last year and the track looks amazing. It will be very interesting to see how all of the teams fare with the high attitude. I've been training extra hard to counter the probable hot and humid conditions."