Harry Tincknell speeds to a second success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race
- Credit: Archant
East Devon motor ace, Harry Tincknell, has taken his second victory at the race that every driver wants to win: the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE that Tincknell shared with Alex Lynn (GB) and Maxime Martin (BEL) fought off a strong challenge from Ferrari to take the chequered flag after 24 hours and 346 laps of fast and furious racing.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the race that inspired the eponymous Steve McQueen film and created legends that have gone on to inspire generations of racing drivers. Harry’s first Le Mans was in 2014 and he took the win in the LMP2 class in what was only his fourth ever sportscar race.
Harry’s focus in 2020 is the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship where he is battling for championship victory in the #55 Mazda DPi car but the alignment of the 2020 race calendars allowed him to return to Europe to race at Le Mans with Aston Martin Racing.
Moved from its traditional June slot due to the pandemic and run without the usual 250,000 fans in attendance, the 2020 race lost none of its sparkle when it came to the on track battles. Prior to the race Harry had only been able to fit in a couple of days of testing in Spain to learn about the Vantage GTE so when he jumped in for his first stint in the Le Mans race he was still learning.
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“That first stint was a real baptism of fire,” he said. “It taught me a lot and I used that knowledge for the rest of the race and my next two stints in the dark were really quick.”
Le Mans 2020 quickly became a three-horse race after safety cars split the two Ferraris and the #97 Aston Martin from the other GTE Pro cars. Suspension failure for the #71 Ferrari then whittled it down to a straight fight for victory between the #97 Aston Martin and the #51 Ferrari.
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“It was a dog fight from then on,” said Tincknell. “Whenever the Ferrari was in my sights I hunted him down and vice versa. I had to defend hard and attack hard. Then, at around 7am I passed the Ferrari on the outside of the second chicane for the lead, which became the final overtake as the lead only switched around during pit cycles after that.”
The key moment of the race was when Ferrari elected to change their brakes with around four hours to go, which cost the prancing horse 30 seconds. Aston Martin’s strategy didn’t include a brake change as they were confident they could make their brakes last for 24 hours, albeit with some careful management by the drivers.
Tincknell was in for the penultimate stint and admits that he felt a little nervous due to the huge importance and history of the event.
“We had a flawless race in #97: no car issues, no pit stop dramas, no penalties, no strategy issues, no contact,” he continued. “That’s just what you need to win Le Mans. Blink and you’re out! I’m so happy with the result and someone just told me I’m the first person to win both the LMP2 and GT classes so that’s great.
“Alex (Lynn) and I are good friends from back in our Formula Renault days and Maxime (Martin) is a great lad too so it was fantastic to join them for this race.
“I want to say a huge thank you Aston Martin Racing; I am proud to be part of their Le Mans history and, of course, to Multimatic for loaning me out to Aston Martin. I had texts from Larry (Holt) and Raj (Nair) straight after the race, which was nice of them. I also want to thank Goodridge for their incredible support.”
What does winning Le Mans feel like? To step into a new team and learn a new car in a matter of days is challenge enough but to do it at Le Mans is incredible.
“It’s hard to put into words what it means to win Le Mans,” said Tincknell. “I felt really emotional after the race as you soak up a lot of pressure during the race. When Alex crossed the line it was an unbelievable feeling. The boys and girls on the team have been so good all week so I was so happy for them. All the painful training sessions, the runs in the cold and watching everything you eat so you can get down to the right weight becomes worth it when you win a massive race like that. What a race!”