Harry Tincknell says he feels “gutted” following late-race misfortune that dashed a likely podium finish in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring for Mazda Team Joest.
The No. 55 Mazda RT24-P was forced to settle for a sixth place result after Tincknell struggled to rejoin the race in the final pit stop due to a dead battery, which was drained from an ongoing clutch issue.
It came following a breakout performance for both the German squad and Multimatic-built prototype, which contended for the win.
Tincknell revealed they managed to overcome its clutch issues for majority of the race.
“Usually we’d go into neutral and leave the engine running,” he told Sportscar365. “But when we tried that, when you put the clutch into first [gear], it would immediately stall.
“So we were coming in, stopping in first, and then basically with the help of the Joest muscle pass, pushing the rear wing.
“I was just basically full on the clutch, full on the throttle and on the starter motor and it just sort of chugged into gear.
“I was hoping that would do it every time and it would just pull away.”
The final stop, however, didn’t go to plan as the Englishman was unable to get away with just 41 minutes left on the clock.
It came when Tincknell was running second overall.
“It was obviously gutting,” he said. “I was trying to pump the pedal up and it just felt like days until being able to jump start it.”
Joest Racing Managing Director Ralf Juttner admitted they had no choice but to go for it in the end.
He said every effort was being made to conserve the charge in the battery, including shutting off the headlights while under full course caution.
“We thought about what to do,” Juttner told Sportscar365. “Do you do something that would cost us time in the last stop [while] in the pits, being one of the cars fighting for the win, or do what we did the last five stops before and get away like this?
“Of course, we tried, otherwise we’d be in trouble…That very last stop, [it didn’t work].”
“Massive Turnaround” from Daytona
Despite the disappointing result, Tincknell was quick to highlight the positives from the weekend, which saw both Mazda DPis showcase improved pace and reliability compared to January’s season-opener in Daytona.
The No. 77 car, which lost time early due to a brake change, set the race’s fastest lap, while neither car encountered any engine-related issues that had plagued the program up until now.
“It was amazing to be in contention,” Tincknell said. “I don’t think many people would have expected us to have had this massive turnaround so quick.
“Multimatic has done an unbelievable job to overturn the car. Of course, a new team is going to take a little while. We took a lot of stick after Daytona but the boys just got their heads down.
“For me personally, I’m still learning. I hardly had any laps at the test.
“My first stint was when I was learning. To be in the car in the end fighting with the best of the best in prototypes was mega.
“I’ve said before the season started that I felt that this car that will definitely win races this year and we nearly won the second biggest of them all.”