Harry Tincknell has had a very successful two weeks, not only with the first FIA World Endurance Championship win for the full-season Ford GTs but later also by winning the European Le Mans Series title with G-Drive Racing.
After coming oh-so-close in 2014 and 2015, the 24-year-old Brit finally became ELMS champion last weekend with the Jota Sport-run G-Drive team alongside Simon Dolan and Giedo van der Garde.
“It’s been a great couple of weeks for both programs, and I was absolutely delighted to wake up [on Monday morning] as European Le Mans Series champion,” he told Sportscar365 in this week’s Double Stint Podcast.
“We went into the weekend knowing it was out of our hands in some respects and we just had to get the race win and hope the results went our way.
“We just had to keep our heads down and work hard; it’s been tough for us this year with the Gibson.
“It has been a fantastic chassis for us for the past three seasons but this year I think the shiny new Orecas have caught up with the pace and I think we haven’t been quite there. We’ve had to work overtime to keep up with those cars.”
It was a shock championship win for the Gibson 015S Nissan, with the team considerably behind title favorites Thiriet by TDS Racing before the Estoril season finale.
Benefitting from problems for the TDS car, G-Drive was able to take its second victory of the season on the way to clinching the LMP2 championship.
“We won the first race of the season at Silverstone, and throughout the season I think we’ve made the least mistakes and we’ve been there or thereabouts, but it was fantastic to end this car’s career with a dominant win at the weekend,” Tincknell said.
“All three of us drove fantastically and the team was spot on with the pit stops and the strategy. In the end, 51 seconds ahead was very dominant. Of course, TDS had a problem and that opened the door for us so we took the title.”
It was a long-awaited title for Tincknell, who was among the drivers of Nissan’s ill-fated LMP1 program last year, while also doubling up on an ELMS campaign with Jota in 2015.
“It was just amazing,” he said. “In the past two seasons, we’ve come so close yet so far and I think we’ve had eight pole positions out of ten races in the last two seasons but haven’t managed to secure the title for one reason or another and it’s always been a big disappointment.
“This year to come into the final race with the championship out of our hands and to cross the line being told that we’ve done enough was just the best feeling ever in my career, outside of winning Le Mans. It was just unbelievable.
“It’s such a strong unit, the G-Drive/Jota Sport team, and a lot of the guys who have been involved with the program since the start have come all the way through the ranks.
“It was an amazing way for the car to go on the top step of the podium and finally take the title that we’ve worked so hard to try and achieve.”
Arguably, the race victory and championship couldn’t have come at a more fitting time, on the team’s final race with the open-top Gibson chassis.
The “Mighty 38”, as it has been dubbed by the team, will be retired now, as the team moves onto a new car for 2017.
“It’s going to be put back into the 2014 livery, the Le Mans-winning livery, and go down to one of Simon’s garages, and have a long and happy retirement,” Tincknell said
“It’s a stunning car. It’s just amazing that it’s still up there competing with these new chassis from Ligier, from ORECA, and the BR01 and all the rest of it.
“I’m just thankful to have been able to drive it and it was very special to do the final two stints that it will ever do in competitive action.
“There have been a lot of guys who have worked on this car and this team for a long, long time, and to reward them in a season when we haven’t been outright quickest, where every single member of the team has had to put in 110 percent at every race to make it possible, is just so good.”