MAZDA “BEST OF THE REST” AT SEBRING
Harry out of fuel on final lap but crucially crosses the finish line to pick up vital championship points.
Harry Tincknell came home fifth after two hours and 40 minutes of fast and furious racing at Sebring International Raceway on July 18th despite coasting across the line due to coming up short on fuel.
The race was billed as the “Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring”; an appropriate title as the top three spots went to Cadillacs that had great pace, but more importantly, two laps of fuel capacity more than the Multimatic Mazdas.
The #55 Mazda qualified eighth and it was Tincknell's teammate Jonathan Bomarito who started from the fourth row. He took the green at maximum attack, handily gaining positions in the early laps. Both Mazdas pitted under yellow after 30 minutes of racing and resumed their attack which resulted in some great racing with the Penske Acuras.
Just before the halfway mark, at the second pit stops, it became evident that both the Mazdas and Acuras were going to be disadvantaged to the Cadillacs on fuel strategy. The race pace and length predicted that that the RT24-Ps would come-up a lap shy on fuel at the end while the Cadillacs would have two laps in hand. As Tincknell took control of the #55 he was given fuel consumption numbers to target to make the end without requiring an extra stop. This ultimately limited the ability to attack the Cadillacs although a similar situation at Penske made the Acuras the primary target. Tincknell found himself in fifth, behind the Penske #6 of Dane Cameron, but the Goodridge sponsored driver soon found a way past with a daring move down the inside of the first corner at over 150mph.
The final pit stop was two minutes outside of the Multimatic cars’ finishing window and so an even more aggressive set of limitations were imposed to reach the end, the pressure of the Acuras now gone as Penske accepted the deficit and pitted a fourth time with half an hour to go. Tincknell and teammate Oliver Jarvis in the sister #77 Mazda, balanced keeping ahead of the hard charging former F1 driver, Sebastian Bourdais in the #5 Cadillac against finishing the race. Ultimately they both came up short allowing the Frenchman to take advantage on the final lap but just keeping the Penske’s at bay.
While the Mazdas may couldn’t fight the Cadillacs at Sebring, they were the next best points scorers so it was a good exercise in damage limitation for the championship fight with Tincknell and Bomarito currently 4th in the overall standings.
Harry Tincknell (GB): “There was a lot to think about during the race and I had some really good battles but the best one was with Dane Cameron. I managed to pass him going into Turn 1; it was really tight and quite aggressive from both of us but it was fair and clean, which is what it’s all about. That took me up to fourth place and I was able to catch Olly (Jarvis) and we ran third and fourth for a long time trying to maximise our fuel economy by drafting down the straights and rolling through the corners.” “We had to aggressively save fuel in the later stages of the race so we couldn’t push hard. It was so tight, in retrospect too tight, and it was looking like I wouldn’t be able to complete the last lap. I knew I was going to lose fourth to Bourdais but if I pitted I would lose another place to Cameron so I coaxed it around the last lap, wringing every last drop of fuel out of the car. I ran out of fuel going into the last corner, put the clutch in and rolled over the line 1.5 seconds ahead of the Penske car. It was one of the craziest finishes of my whole career!”
Harry’s next race is the Road Race Showcase at Road America, Wisconsin on the 2nd August.