A tie-in between Proton Competition, Porsche and Multimatic has given Harry Tincknell a last-minute drive in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Confirmed on Thursday, the Proton-entered No. 99 Porsche 911 RSR-19 will be driven by the two-time Le Mans class winner, Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup driver Florian Latorre and Bronze-rated Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak.
With Proton fielding a total of five Porsches across the GTE-Pro and GTE-Am ranks, the German squad has called upon Multimatic to help crew the No. 99 Porsche.
“It’s been sort of bubbling in the background for the last two or three weeks now,” Tincknell told Sportscar365.
“I’m not privied to the whole story but essentially Multimatic and Proton and Porsche have a very close relationship and have done for quite a while.
“The opportunity came about for Multimatic to be more involved in this car at Le Mans this year. That meant that part of the deal that was struck was that I’d be brought in to lead on the driving front.
“Proton shares the Multimatic shop over in Mooresville [N.C.], and I guess there’s a relationship there.
“Vince Libertucci, who I won Sebring with last year in the 55 [Mazda], is engineering the car with assistance from Proton. There’s also some Multimatic mechanics and engineers from the Mazda and Ford GT program who are also working on the car.”
While no longer working with Libertucci at the track amid Mazda’s scaled-back DPi program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Multimatic-contracted driver said he’s happy to be reunited with his former No. 55 engineer.
“Obviously Vince and I have a very close relationship,” he said. “I think he’s a great engineer. When Multimatic first took a chance on me in 2016 that was a big moment in my career.
“I’ve formed a very tight relationship with all of the guys and girls involved in that Ford GT program.
“A number of the WEC crew have stayed involved at Multimatic, based at Silverstone even without a race program, working on the road car stuff with Aston Martin and Mercedes.
“I think a lot of them are itching to get back to the race track and what better race than the biggest race in the world.
“For me it’s great to be able to walk into a new team and a completely new environment and a new car but be surrounded by familiar faces. I think that definitely helps.”
Tincknell, who is due to arrive in Le Mans on Saturday evening from Berlin after completing his Formula E reserve driver duties with Audi, will get his first laps in the mid-engined Porsche on Sunday’s test day.
“I’ve definitely got a very busy learning day on Sunday,” he said. “I’ve prepared for it as best I can. While I know the track well — It’s my eighth Le Mans in a row — it’s a completely different car.
“I know from last year with Aston Martin, it’s not easy to just jump into a brand-new car that you have very little or no experience from and get up to speed quickly at Le Mans.
“In some respects, that experience last year will stand me in great stead this year.
“I’ve just got to learn quickly but Proton is a great team and I’ve got some very fast Porsche junior teammates or factory Porsche drivers that have all the data as well.
“I’ve spoken a little bit with some of my friends who have driven Porsches before at Road America [last weekend]. I will do everything in my power to get up to speed as quickly as possible.”
Tincknell Hoping to “Surprise People” in Off-Radar GTE-Am Entry
Having claimed GTE-Pro class honors with Aston Martin Racing last year and winning the race with Jota Sport in LMP2 in his debut in 2014, Tincknell is looking to add another Le Mans class win to his resume.
He will become one of the few drivers to have contested the French endurance classic in all four classes, having been part of the ill-fated Nissan LMP1 project in 2015.
“I’ve got a vast amount of experience [at Le Mans] which I think is only going to stand me in good stead with everything that’s coming with LMDh, and obviously that’s a destination I’m fully focused on ending up in,” he said.
“To have eight Le Mans in four different classes and still be in my 20’s and not really be even in my prime driving career — which is still ahead of me — hopefully makes me a desirable target.
“It’s a pretty cool achievement. I know I’m the only person that’s won in GTE-Pro and LMP2.
“I was kinda hoping I would complete the set at one point but I thought the GTE-Am victory would come in my 40’s rather than potentially in my 20’s!
“I’m going to do my best. I don’t think there are much expectations from us.
“It’s a car that’s come together at the last minute and we’re probably not on anyone’s radar. But I think when there’s no expectations, you can sometimes surprise people.
“I’m confident we can just get our heads down. We’ve got good people on the car. Florian is doing great in Supercup. Vutthikorn was a solid Bronze driver last year so I think we have all of the ingredients to do a nice job.
“I’m hoping we surprise people.”