Fire blow hits Harry’s first race
- Credit: Archant
Harry Tincknell’s season opening race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona ended in the 17th hour after the car caught fire on track.
The incident was a tough end to a race with a lot of positives for the Mazda Team Joest crew after the car showed strong pace in mixed conditions during the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship.
Teaming up with American’s Jonathan Bomarito and Spencer Pigot for the first time, Tincknell’s #55 car qualified ninth in the 20-car field for the 56th edition of the iconic Rolex 24 at Daytona. Bomarito started the race and quickly moved up to seventh place where he remained in touch with the leaders for the first hour before handing over to Tincknell at the second pit stop.
An errant front left tyre meant the Devonian had to immediately return to the pits before a trouble-free two hours in the car.
Pigot replaced Tincknell in the fourth hour as the sun started to set around the Florida circuit.
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After finishing his two 45-minute stints in the car and handing back to Bomarito, the heavens opened and all cars pitted for wet tyres. The strength of the Mazda RT24-P really shone through as Bomarito lapped faster than any car on track in the slippery conditions.
By the time Tincknell was back behind the wheel, the track was dry, allowing the 26-year-old to set Mazda’s fastest lap of the race. This eclipsed the best lap from two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso, who was making his Daytona debut for Ligier.
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In the early hours of Sunday morning the car headed back to the garage for repairs and the Mazda Team Joest mechanics and engineers worked tirelessly to return the car to the track.
After a triple stint from Pigot, Bomarito returned for another strong double stint. However, in the 17th hour the car caught fire on circuit and the Californian had to pull over and allow the safety crew to extinguish the flames and, with it, any chance of seeing the chequered flag.
Despite the disappointing end, the pace of the car paired with solid team work from Mazda Team Joest was a clear positive to take away from the weekend.
Speaking after the race, Harry said: “Obviously, we would have loved to have finished the 24 hours, but, overall, I think we can be very proud of the job we have done at Daytona this week.
“Last season, the car was 3.5 seconds off the pace. Now, with all the upgrades, we are comfortably running in the top eight on a circuit that probably doesn’t suit the characteristics of our car as much as some of the upcoming races on the calendar.”
“We knew it was going to be a very tough ask to be reliable with only three months’ preparation and we have gathered a lot of extremely useful data that the Mazda Team Joest guys will be able to analyse.
“We know the weak points of the car that we need to improve, but we also know that we have a car that is competitive and can win races this season. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole event and Jonathan, Spencer and I worked really well together.
“With such a hard working team and a car that has a great base to improve on, I’m very excited about what’s to come in 2018.”