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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The British duo that captured Ford world glory

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By comparability along with his earlier profession in touring vehicles that yielded titles in 4 consecutive seasons, the 4 World Endurance Championship GTE Professional wins Andy Priaulx scored as a part of the Ford GT programme seem small fry. But the Guernseyman regards his first three-and-a-bit years of his ongoing relationship with Multimatic as one of the crucial pleasing durations of his profession. And that goes some approach to explaining Priaulx’s selection of Harry Tincknell as his favorite team-mate.

A hat-trick of World Touring Automotive Championship titles with BMW, coming after he’d received the 2004 European crown, established Priaulx as one of many world’s greatest drivers, rated at quantity 9 in Autosport’s 2005 high 50. It was “positively one of the crucial profitable elements of my profession,” Priaulx acknowledges, earlier than including “it wasn’t one of the crucial pleasing” as he was nonetheless constructing his title and “had an terrible lot of stress from BMW” to maintain performing.

Priaulx had spent over a decade on the Munich marque and knew “the longest a part of the profession was behind me” when he joined Larry Holt’s Multimatic organisation for 2016. By this time, he had a distinct strategy to team-mates.

“It was solely in direction of the tip of my profession that I’ve turn into very pleasant with a number of,” Priaulx says, citing long-time BMW team-mate Augusto Farfus as one driver he’s turn into pleasant with “since we stopped racing collectively”.

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Nevertheless it’s Tincknell, who he partnered for the 26-race period of the Ford GT within the WEC, that Priaulx picks as his favorite. In distinction with racing in single-driver tin-top sequence the place “you’re having to be completely egocentric and relentlessly decided to even discover a tenth to make or break your weekend”, his time at Ford “was extra an pleasing stress” the place he relished working in “a non-political surroundings”.

To Priaulx, who stays a Multimatic driver after stepping away from his final full-time racing programme with the Cyan Racing WTCR squad in 2020, Tincknell was “an absolute pleasure” to race with.

“I don’t assume I may have been with a greater team-mate,” Priaulx says. “He was on the up, he was a well-established sportscar racer with an enormous future forward. I used to be in my early 40s and nonetheless at a excessive degree.

Priaulx and Tincknell received 4 instances through the course of the Ford GT programme, three of these as a duo

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“I used to be in a position to educate him a factor or two and he additionally confirmed me a superb degree as nicely. It was a really mutually pleasing performance-enhancing surroundings, which is one thing you don’t get fairly often as a result of with sportscar racing it’s all compromise.

“By Harry I realized one other approach to work as nicely, which was far more world. I didn’t should at all times be the man qualifying, I didn’t should be the man setting the quickest laps within the race. I believe Harry will say that the connection he had with me was one in all gaining expertise, studying work at a excessive degree and I stored him on his toes as nicely.”

In addition to constructing the brand new Ford GT, Multimatic additionally operated it beneath the Ford Chip Ganassi Group UK banner. Successfully this was an all-new operation with loads of studying to do.

Tincknell was in an identical boat. He’d arrived from the disastrous, short-lived Nissan LMP1 project that was canned after its sole race outing at Le Mans and had by no means beforehand raced a GT automobile, having shot to prominence throughout his first 12 months of sportscars in 2014 when he’d received the LMP2 class at Le Mans with Jota. The 18-year age hole between the 2 contributed to Priaulx adopting a “father-figure position, simply managing the surroundings and preserving Harry in the suitable mindset”.

“Harry and I each needed a really related automobile. Fairly often in direction of the tip, we had been simply taking a look at one another and we knew what we needed” Andy Priaulx

“He’s a intelligent man, he didn’t want a lot of assist from me,” explains Priaulx. “However by way of set-up I used to be very skilled and it was an open guide, I laid every little thing out.

“Harry was very a lot open-minded to study and on the similar time I gave him just about all of my data which he was receptive for. We constructed an amazing efficiency throughout the crew; we went from a brand new crew to an excellent crew in a really brief area of time.

“It’s not fairly often I don’t have any adverse suggestions on a crew however in direction of the tip of the programme, I believed ‘I actually can’t fault these guys’. There was zero vitality spent on politics. It was all simply engaged on the automobile and dealing in your efficiency.”

Priaulx and Tincknell had been joined by a number of third drivers through the programme, together with Marino Franchitti, Pipo Derani, Tony Kanaan and Jonathan Bomarito. The British duo additionally raced alone on 13 events. However the continuity with Tincknell meant Priaulx headed into each weekend realizing “we might carry out to a superb degree, that we might deliver the automobile to a superb set-up, and each of us can be working nicely to lift the bar”.

Priaulx says the pair were usually in agreement on set-up direction which aided their performance against stiff competition

Priaulx says the pair had been normally in settlement on set-up course which aided their efficiency towards stiff competitors

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

This contributed to back-to-back WEC victories at Fuji and Shanghai in 2016, adopted by wins at Silverstone and Shanghai the next 12 months, a season that included an IMSA SportsCar Championship cameo within the Daytona 24 Hours. In addition they completed second at Le Mans in 2017 whereas a constant 2018-19 ‘superseason’ within the Ford GT’s final hurrah yielded 4 podium finishes and two pole positions.

“That’s why I used to be upset it type of ended too early,” Priaulx says. “That was for me one or two years too early to complete as a result of we had been in such a superb place. The automobile had a superb few seasons in it and it nonetheless had a lot of potential going ahead, which was an important disgrace actually.”

Priaulx cites the 2019 pole at Spa, in his penultimate WEC look, as proof “we had been working at a superb degree”. They once more outqualified the #66 Ford of Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla within the programme’s closing outing at Le Mans, which put the head-to-head 14-12 in favour of the #67 crew. Solely in 2016 when #67 misplaced out by half a degree would the sister automobile end a season forward within the standings – and most of that margin given up at Le Mans the place the #66 took a double factors ending third in GTE Professional whereas the #67 misplaced two laps to gearbox woes earlier than the beginning.

“If Harry was the person for that race, I’d push Harry ahead and if I used to be the person I’d push myself ahead,” Priaulx says. “Harry and I each needed a really related automobile. Fairly often in direction of the tip, we had been simply taking a look at one another and we knew what we needed, we simply took care of one another on the set-up.

“Some drivers are to this point aside on the set-up, you find yourself with such an enormous yo-yo-ing of necessities from the automobile from session to session; one man desires it pinned on the nostril and one man desires a secure rear. However Harry and I, what we needed from the automobile was fairly related. I knew when he bought in and did some operating, I’d leap in and say ‘yep, that’s the identical for me’ and vice versa. That’s what made it very robust.

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“In the direction of the tip of our time collectively Harry actually did turn into the far more full driver, he was positively a lot stronger on set-up than when he began. There was by no means any doubt about his velocity as a result of he was profitable good races earlier than he joined us, however the two got here collectively fairly properly.”

Priaulx’s son Seb raced with Tincknell throughout his first WEC marketing campaign in 2022, taking victories within the GTE Am class at Spa and Monza with Christian Reid’s Proton crew. Tincknell has now stepped as much as the Hypercar class with Proton’s buyer Porsche 963 LMDh, however Priaulx Jr’s Multimatic-contracted standing means they may nicely drive collectively once more.

“Seb actually appears to be like as much as Harry and I believe their careers at Multimatic are going to take many good steps, hopefully collectively,” says Priaulx. “If there’s one team-mate that I may select for Seb to be with, it might be Harry as a result of he’s a simple man. The 2 of them collectively can be a tricky mixture to beat in a sportscar proper now.”

Priaulx Jr has also won in the WEC alongside Tincknell, and Priaulx Sr hopes the partnership will one day be reprised

Priaulx Jr has additionally received within the WEC alongside Tincknell, and Priaulx Sr hopes the partnership will at some point be reprised

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

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