Harry Tincknell has won the European Le Mans Series Driver's title after suffering heartache in the same sportscar championship for the previous two years. An emphatic victory in the 4 Hours of Estoril today (23 Oct), the sixth and final round, was good enough to turn a 14-point deficit starting the Portuguese race into a nine-point winning margin when their title rivals suffered a problem and placed only ninth in class although the JOTA Gibson was in a class of its own in the race.
The Briton, who celebrates his 25th birthday later this month (29 Oct), had finished second and third in the final ELMS standings in 2014 his first year racing a sportscar and 2015 respectively by a mere four points on both occasions despite achieving seven rostrum finishes including two wins from 10 races. This year Tincknell and co-drivers Simon Dolan/Giedo van der Garde have achieved four podiums, including two wins, in their JOTA Sport operated G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S-Nissan that was being raced for the last time. This latest success comes in the wake of Tincknell scoring a stunning maiden victory for the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team in the 6 Hours of Fuji last weekend in Japan (16 Oct).
Van der Garde secured a second row start in a wet track qualifying session on Saturday afternoon with Giedo starting the race. The Dutchman snatched the lead exiting the first corner but ran a close second for the majority of the stint before taking the lead again immediately before pitting after 50mins to Dolan. Simon held a healthy lead of 44secs at mid-distance but vitally with their championship rivals in the pit-box with an issue and dropping down the leaderboard before a Safety Car period.
Dolan dropped to second at the re-start but was back in front again almost immediately with Tincknell getting in the leading Gibson with slightly less than 90mins remaining 40secs ahead of the second-placed car. Harry had extended the advantage to 52secs with one-hour to run and up to 71secs before making a final stop for fuel, Tincknell cruising to the chequered flag with a 51secs advantage. Over the past three ELMS seasons, Harry has achieved 13 top-four finishes from 16 races including 11 rostrums four being race wins.
While the ELMS campaign has drawn to a close, Harry still has two races remaining in his first full season competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Tinks will race for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing alongside Andy Priaulx in the penultimate round of the series at Shanghai in China on 6 November. Harry, who scored a stunning maiden victory for Ford in the 6 Hours of Fuji last weekend in Japan (16 Oct), will be making his Shanghai debut.
Harry says: I've been so close to winning the ELMS title with JOTA for the past two years and so to finally get it is a fantastic feeling and I feel it's deserved.
Winning it this year in the last season of the #Mighty38's racing life, competing against cars that have a significant speed/aero advantage, makes it all the more sweeter. While our outright pace cannot match the latest LMP2 machinery, the combination of Simon, Giedo, great team work from the JOTA/G-Drive crew and consistency has rewarded us with the championship title this year. And what a two weeks! There were times this year when I wondered what I needed to do to get a win. In both the JOTA and Ford programmes I suffered some appalling luck and now two come along on consecutive weekends and with it a championship title it's unbelievable!
Shanghai will be my first time in China. Looking at the track it has some fast, flowing corners and also some long straights, a bit like Fuji, so in that respect it should suit the Ford GT. I'm going to go with Andy [Priaulx] to his simulator at iZone to prepare just like we did for Fuji. Neither of us had been to Fuji either and we won so let's hope we can do the same again. It's been on the F1 calendar for many years and it looks like a high-spec facility. I'm targeting at least two more podiums from the final two WEC races