Ticknell has busy weekend in race double at Sebring, Florida

Harry Tincknell (GBR) Fortec Motorsport Dallara Mercedes

Harry Tincknell (GBR) Fortec Motorsport Dallara Mercedes - Credit: Archant

East Devon motor racing ace Harry Tincknell had the busiest race week of his career to date in Sebring, Florida as the World Endurance Championship and North America’s IMSA Weathertech Championship converged on the same weekend for a double dose of dramatic sports car racing.

The 27-year-old, who races in both series for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Mazda Team Joest, split his practice and qualifying commitments between both programs, driving over 1,100 miles personally around the bumpiest and most physical race track in the world.

Tincknell qualified in a superb second place for Friday’s 1,000 Miles of Sebring race, the sixth round of the 2018-19 World Endurance, and would go on to take the start in the #67 Ford GT.

The Devonian ran in the top three for the opening hour before handing over to regular team-mate Andy Priaulx. Fantastic work by the Ford crew during the first pit stop leapfrogged the car into the lead.

New third driver, American Jonathan Bomarito (Tincknell’s regular Mazda co pilot) took over from Priaulx as the trio of drivers cycled through the car each hour, building a gap of 25 seconds.

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However, a safety car period for barrier repairs at the notoriously difficult Sebring circuit erased their advantage, playing into the hands of the pursuing Porsche and BMW, who demoted the GT to the final step on the podium during the final two hours. The race would finish behind the safety car as heavy rainfall hit the Floridian circuit during the final 20 minutes as the clock approached midnight.

Saturday’s 67th running of the Mobil One 12 Hours of Sebring would start in similarly treacherous conditions as Bomarito, who had qualified the #55 Mazda RT24-P prototype seventh overall, took the start behind the safety car.

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Once the weather cleared and racing commenced during the 25th minute of the once around the clock classic, the #55 was immediately on the charge, racing up to 3rd position in the wet before Tincknell took the wheel as the track dried enough for slick tyres.

Harry and Frenchman Olivier Pla continued the charge forward as the Mazda took the lead during the first half of the race as inclement weather played havoc amongst the 38 strong field of cars as grip levels changed vastly as rain fell.

During a brief but heavy rain shower, Bomarito ran wide and hit the tyre barrier, forcing the car into the pits for three laps worth of unscheduled repairs to the front bodywork. Despite gaining one lap back through sheer speed, a lack of full course yellows during the second half of the race meant the car took the checkered flag in 6th position, two laps back to the winners. Tincknell would, however, take away the prestigious accolade of fastest lap of the entire race with a 1.47.472, an average of 125.278mph around the 3.74 mile circuit.

Speaking after his weekend, Harry said: “I am delighted to be back on the podium with Ford at their home race of the World Championship this weekend.

“Obviously, after leading for so long I was gutted not to be on the top step, but it was sheer guts from all three drivers, backed up with tremendous teamwork from the crew that put us in a position to win.

“We just got unlucky with the safety car being required; that was the difference between winning and losing today and we can’t control that.

“In the IMSA race I was delighted to see the Mazdas have great pace all weekend and I am sure the first win for the RT24-P is right around the corner.

“We aimed to be higher than sixth, but Jonathan, Olivier and myself gave everything we had out there. Despite us all having driven the 1,000-mile race the previous night, all our training and preparation paid off as we got the maximum out of the car, which showed with the fastest lap of the race.

“ I am really excited for the coming races with this team and package.”

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