Last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans had its share of drama, including a late-race battle for LMP2 class honors that went the way of Jota Sport.
While the British squad capitalized on issues for the pair of debuting Ligier JS P2 Nissans, it was a set of impressive closing stints by late fill-in Oliver Turvey and co-driver Harry Tincknell, in his Le Mans debut, that sealed Jota’s first class victory in the famed enduro.
“From the night onwards, we were really, really strong,” Tincknell told Sportscar365. “I was told to go out there and hunt them down and just push, absolute maximum attack. I put them under pressure, the Ligier cracked and got into P2.
“Then I knew if I could just hunt the TDS down as much as I could and give Ollie as much of a chance as possible, so when he goes out, he hunt down the last few seconds and pass him, I had every confidence he’d be able to do that.
“I just pushed as hard as I could. When I got out of the car, I was totally finished. I gave it everything I had. Our strategy worked out perfectly.”
For the 22-year-old Englishman, who is managed by three-time Le Mans winner and reigning FIA WEC champion Allan McNish, he was fully aware of the challenge heading into his 24-hour debut.
“It was my first time there. I’d heard how brilliant this race is and all the rest of it. But until you experience it yourself, it’s hard to put into words,” Tincknell said.
“To win it, is just a dream come true. Allan obviously knows a lot about this race and I’ve been through some of his ups and downs the last few years as well.
“To be here myself, racing, and doing the business, is amazing. I’m over the moon and I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life”
Tincknell has gotten off to a quick start in his sports car racing career, having only made the transition from the open-wheel ranks this year.
The Formula 3 veteran nearly pulled off a win in his LMP2 debut in the European Le Mans Series season-opener at Silverstone in April, but was knocked out of the lead due to a race-ending accident by co-driver Simon Dolan.
Dolan, however, redeemed himself — and in a big way — in the next round at Imola, as the quick gentleman driver held off a late charge by ex-F1 driver Christian Klien for the win in their Zytek Z11SN Nissan.
One month later, Tincknell and Dolan were back on the top step of the podium, this time with Turvey, and having achieved victory in world’s most prestigious endurance race.
Looking back at it all, Tincknell couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
“I think there’s so much more opportunities in sports cars,” Tincknell said. “It was a really wise move from Allan to invite me to come into this arena.
“I can’t think Jota enough for giving me the opportunity and also for taking a bit of a risk on a young guy from single-seaters. You can come into it with a slightly different mentality if you’ve come from Formula 3 where it’s only half-an-hour races and 30 races a year.
“I had every confidence in being quick, and matching some of the more established guys on lap time. But obviously, the other aspect of it like fuel economy, traffic management, the whole strategy side of it was for sure going to be a bit longer to get up to speed with.”
While the focus for the remainder of the season is on the ELMS, and capturing the drivers and teams’ titles, Tincknell realizes it would be tough to out-due what was achieved last weekend in La Sarthe.
“I think whatever happens in the ELMS, nothing will top [the Le Mans win] this season for sure,” he said. “We’ll certainly be very strong heading into Red Bull Ring next month, so looking forward to that. We’re certainly going there with a lot of confidence.”