“At Daytona I did think I don’t mind a year out [of the top class] but next year I want to be in there pitching and swinging!” he says. “The path to success isn’t a straight line the whole way and I’m enjoying this slight deviation to do something completely different. Look at Felipe at Daytona: he went from being the outright DPi winner to suddenly pitching into a Porsche GT with drivers who have been driving those cars for years. He did a great job and ended up winning the class. That’s the example I need for myself.”
It’s a long time now since Tincknell stepped out of a Formula 3 car to win the LMP2 category at Le Mans at the first time of asking in 2014. Through the ill-conceived Nissan GT-R campaign, but more emphatically the Ford GT and Mazda DPi years he’s built up a wealth of endurance racing experience. He’s also had his fair share of Balance of Performance breaks and blows, and knows what is coming next year with LMDh versus the Hypercars.
“You’ve got cars that are going to produce lap time in quite a different way,” he points out. “It’ll be more important to have a drivable, tuneable car than necessarily have peak downforce numbers. That’s just my opinion. From everything I’ve heard Porsche’s LMDh tests have gone really well, reliability has been strong and it’s all been very positive.”
But will it really be possible to balance two-wheeled drive LMDh/GTPs and those LMH entries running four-wheel-drive hybrid powertrains? “For me, it will balance OK lap-time wise, I just wonder how it will balance in the way the lap time is produced. It’s very difficult to BoP a four-wheel drive car that’s quite heavy versus more of a spec LMDh car. So I do think that will be a challenge, honestly. It’s always in the press every year at Le Mans, the BoP with GT cars. Some years you benefit, some years you don’t. I’m sure there will be plenty of that. It was quite tough with multiple manufacturers in the GT class a few years ago, so when you have potentially up to 10 with two very different philosophies of car it won’t be easy. I wouldn’t want to be the person making the decisions, that’s for sure.”
If Tincknell’s backside doesn’t slide in a factory seat there is always the possibility of a customer LMDh drive, which has been part of the Group C-throwback attraction of the new budget-friendly class from the moment it was announced. “That’s all happening,” he says. “I hear rumours here and there which team is aligning with that manufacturer. I’m sure you’ll see the top well-funded LMP2 teams running LMDh cars. Look at the way [leading junior single-seater team] Prema have come into LMP2 this year [in the WEC]. Surely that will be a long-term thing for LMDh. Then there’s WRT and Audi. But LMP2 will continue. I’ve heard stuff about ‘LMDh will kill off LMP2’, but I think the budget will be too high for some teams to reach. And it’s not really a Pro-Am thing either. So LMP2 will be here to stay too, which is a good thing because it’s been very successful.”
Beyond the six WEC dates and whatever deal he secures for some more LMP2 appearances, Tincknell also reveals there’s a possibility of a maiden historic racing event or two “in a very well-known car with a manufacturer I’m very closely linked with, from back in the 1990s”. Could that be in partnership with Mr McNish? “That would need a big seat insert!” he chuckles, referencing the discrepancy in height between master and apprentice…
“This is my mindset,” he concludes. “I’ve got six races in the WEC, I want to be as prepared as possible and do a great job with Seb and Christian. When all these programmes were first announced they were two years away and I’ve never known a time where there has been so much excitement about something that was still so far out. But now we’re in March 2022, testing is beginning and it’s real. You can see where everyone is aligning themselves for the future and it is very exciting. There’s a golden period of sports cars coming, and in the same way at Le Mans in 2017 and 2018 when we had 18 or 19 GTE Pro cars from half a dozen manufacturers, it’ll be like that. But there’s no doubt that when it’s for the overall victory it just creates an incredible buzz. Look at Daytona this year: the fight between the two Porsches was unbelievable but because it was the GT class the TV still cut back to the overall battle even though it was pretty much tied up.
“When it’s like that with all those cars for outright victory it’s going to be incredible. Le Mans has such incredible support from the fans. It will be insane.”