DEVON RACER RECORDS AN ITALIAN JOB
Dolan, Tincknell and Albuquerque bounce back into title contention
Devon's Harry Tincknell and his JOTA Sport team-mates stormed to a fantastic if last gasp victory in the second round of the European Le Mans Series in Italy today (18 May).
Exeter-born Tincknell, Simon Dolan and Filipe Albuquerque recorded the British team's first ELMS win of the season with a 28.860-secs victory in the Imola 4 Hours at the wheel of their Zytek Z11SN.
The trio now lie second in the Driver's standings with JOTA also second in the Team's championship after two races just eight points down on the leaders despite the team's unfortunate non-finish in the opening Silverstone race when leader Dolan was forced off the track.
Having secured pole-position for the Silverstone opener courtesy of Tincknell, who lives in Sidmouth, this time it was Albuquerque who netted 'pole' around the 22-corner, 3.05-mile Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari track near Bologna in qualifying earlier in the day.
The start signal for the 4 Hours race was given by reigning FIA World Endurance Champion Allan McNish, mentor to the pole-starting Tincknell on the 37-car grid, Harry actually making his ELMS race debut due to not getting into the Zytek at Silverstone.
Tincknell led impressively throughout his stint before making a scheduled pit-stop after 45mins, Dolan taking over and resuming with a three seconds lead after the opening pit-stop phase.
Dolan, handicapped with a 'handling' imbalance that effected his pace, pitted for a 'full service' tyres, fuel and a driver change to Albuquerque with a little under 2½hrs remaining the Portuguese back into the fray placed fifth as a result of the pit-stop.
Albuquerque's pace was exceptional, Filipe clocking the race's fastest lap on the two-hour mark, the 'factory' Audi Sport 'loanee' consistently setting the quickest laps which brought the JOTA Zytek back into the lead before pitting to Dolan with 100mins remaining.
A 13mins Safety Car period to remove debris from the track grouped the field together although Simon was back in to the lead during the final pit-stop phase with an hour to run.
Leader Dolan was driving brilliantly, coping magnificently in the heavy 'traffic' and made his final pit-stop for fuel with 40mins remaining. Simon, a 'bronze' graded driver, ultimately and unsurprisingly, had to give best to 'gold' classified professional driver Christian Klien, an ex-Formula One driver, with 23mins to run.
But with less than four minutes remaining Dolan, having arguably accomplished the 'drive' of the race the Monaco-based Briton and JOTA Sport receiving the unofficial 'Spirit of the Race' award by the highly respected Radio Le Mans commentators, forged to the head of the field once more when the leader slowed.
Frant-based JOTA Sport's next event is the Le Mans 24 Hour race's 'official' test day on Sunday 1 June the only opportunity to drive the legendary 8.47-mile track prior to the actual twice-around-the-clock 'classic' staged over 14-15 June.
Harry Tincknell (GB). Age: 22. Born: Exeter, Devon. Lives: Sidmouth, Devon (GB):
"It's a brilliant result for the JOTA Sport team and exactly what was needed following our Silverstone disappointment. Simon did a mega job at the end to stave off Christian for so long and then to stay with him allowing us to capitalise when he had a problem. It was my first start from pole-position in a sportscar race and I heeded Allan McNish's advice and really had an uneventful opening stint, bringing the Zytek in with a nice lead. It was a roller coaster of a race, one minute we were up and then the next minute we were down but all that matters is that we finished on a high!"
Imola 4 Hours, ELMS Rd 2
Free Practice 1: 1m 36.791s (P3, Tincknell), +0.454s (38 laps)
Free Practice 2: 1m 35.413s (P2, Albuquerque), +0.095s (44 laps)
Qualifying: 1m 33.974s (P1, Albuquerque) (6 laps)
Race: 1st, +28.869secs + Fastest Lap (Albuquerque), 1m 36.144s