Harry Tincknell believes he is in a strong position ahead of his second season working with Andy Priaulx at Ford Chip Ganassi Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, while no longer splitting his time between two series.
The 25-year-old Brit will be racing the No. 67 Ford GT in this weekend’s WEC season-opener at Silverstone but won’t be returning to the European Le Mans Series to defend his LMP2 title.
“To just focus on one program as a driver is good,” Tincknell told Sportscar365.
“If you do more than one program, it’s great for track time but sometimes you’re flying around the world to be back within a couple of days to get to the next race. It’s nice to have that extra preparation.”
For the second year of the Ford program, Tincknell returns with the same full-season co-driver in Priaulx, but also to be joined by Pipo Derani for the first three rounds including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This time last season, Tincknell was only contracted to do the first three races alongside would-be full-season drivers Priaulx and Marino Franchitti, but was later picked up for the rest of the season post-Le Mans.
“I think Andy and I are working together even stronger than last year and having that sort of commitment from Ford and knowing what we’re going to be doing the whole year only helps not only the harmony within the team but also between us,” he explained.
“We’re working together really strongly, and we’re working on the setup, but also comparing our driving styles.
“We’ve got Pipo Derani in the car, which is really exciting. He won Daytona and Sebring [last year], he’s no slouch, and he’s been a regular in the WEC now for the last two years and he’s a fast addition.”
He says the team is in a much better position than it was at its WEC debut this time last year with a lot of issues sorted out over the winter.
“There’s a lot of electronic stuff that’s been improved on, and compared to where we were with the car this time last year, we’ve certainly ironed out a lot of the niggles and the slightly unreliable parts,” he said.
“In general our reliability was really strong last year, and it should, touch wood, be even better this year.”
Moreover, Tincknell believes that competing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, where he racked up a fifth-place finish alongside Priaulx and Tony Kanaan, has also helped him prepare for the WEC season.
“I think it just keeps you sharper because it’s one thing to do the test and do the 24-hour test, 30-hour test or whatever, but it’s another thing to do it in competition fighting for some of the biggest races in the world,” he explained.
“It certainly keeps us sharp and keeps the mechanics sharp as well with strategy, pit stops and everything like that.
“If you mess up there, it’s fairly public so it keeps everyone on their toes and that can only be a positive.”
While the WEC season is only getting underway this weekend, the U.S.-based Ford team has already completed three races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
This is something that Tincknell has found very important in preparing himself, and with the team being able to utilize data from both series to its advantage.
“Of course having the IMSA team running is extra mileage for us and there’s a lot of cross-learning between the two programs, and we share everything, so it’s fantastic to have that,” he said.
“There’s been some stuff happening in America this week that’s now on the car and seems to be working.
“Obviously the main aim is Le Mans but we’re pushing from the start and we want to win this weekend. It’s a home race and there’s a lot of Ford employees coming up.”
The difference between the two drivers was a major part of their success as partners last season, Tincknell adds.
“In a class that’s so close, every half-a-tenth counts and we’ve got such a good chemistry because I’m the young, hard-charger and really hungry for wins and world championships, and Andy’s the three-time world champ,” he explained.
“He’s been there, done it, got the t-shirt, and has got all the experience. Together he’s teaching me a lot about setting the car up and feedback, and at the same time I’m keeping him sharp.
“We’re both just going to a new level together.”