British team gets ELMS title bid off to good start at Silverstone
JOTA Sport launched its European Le Mans Series title bid in style yesterday (11 Apr) by finishing a very close second in a dramatic 4 Hours of Silverstone. Simon Dolan, Filipe Albuquerque and Harry Tincknell brought their Gibson 015S Nissan home less than one second behind the winning car in the action-packed 433-mile ELMS “opener”.
Albuquerque started the Dunlop-shod Gibson from the front row on the 31-car grid after Tincknell had set the second fastest time in qualifying earlier in the day around the 3.667-mile Silverstone “Grand Prix” circuit in Northamptonshire.
The Portuguese “factory” Audi Sport driver moved into the lead with less than 30mins gone and handed over the Gibson to Dolan an hour later after a solid double “stint”. With the first driver change pit-stops completed Simon lay second – Dolan superbly consolidating the position following a Safety Car phase with 68mins to run.
We raced fairly and cleanly and it was an ‘exciting’ race with lots of incidents and it’s good to score solid points.
Dolan, matching the pace of far more experienced drivers, pitted with 44mins remaining, “works” Nissan NISMO driver Tincknell resuming third – less than 2secs behind the leader – with Harry immediately setting the race’s fastest lap.
Tincknell on a mission, lost no time in challenging the second-placed Gibson, Harry doing well to stay on the track when his rival made contact with the JOTA sportscar pushing Tincknell wide. With 20mins remaining, just seven seconds covered the top-three. Harry snatched second-place with less than 15mins to go and closed in to within 3secs of the leader but moments later Tincknell, lost momentum when slowed by a GT class car, was squeezed tight over the kerbs after further contact with the rival Gibson car at Becketts Corner, spun and continued in third place.
The drama intensified when the lead two cars touched promoting Tincknell to second place – Harry taking the chequered flag just 0.370secs behind the similar Gibson for a hard earned second place. Dolan, Albuquerque and Tincknell will head to the second round in Italy next month (17 May) hoping for a repeat performance at Imola. JOTA started from pole-position, won and set the race’s fastest lap 12 months ago.
Simon Dolan (GB). Age 45. Born: Chelmsford, Essex. Lives: Monaco (MC): “We raced fairly and cleanly and it was an ‘exciting’ race with lots of incidents and it’s good to score solid points. The result could have swung either way and of course it would have been nice to win. Our strategy in my first stint was to save fuel [to prevent the need for a splash at the end] but being economical was wasted with the Safety Car period. But it also meant that the tyres were in very good shape for the second stint allowing me to close the gap on Thiriet and the Greaves Gibson. Overall I was very pleased with my performance. ”
Filipe Albuquerque (P). Age 29. Born & Lives: Coimbra (P): “The final outcome of the race was a little strange and I think we can consider ourselves unlucky not to have won. The first stint of my two was a little crazy after the re-start was a little messy following a Safety Car period. Once in the lead I was able to pull out a good gap. JOTA’s strategy was perfect allowing me to give the car to Simon with a 17secs lead. He went on to do a fantastic job in his stints while Harry was awesome but unlucky.”
Harry Tincknell (GB). Age: 23. Born: Exeter, Devon. Lives: Sidmouth, Devon (GB): “The Gibson felt good for my stint and I pushed hard to get past Lancaster. He defended pretty well until forcing me off the track when I was clearly alongside. I got back on terms again but was pushed off again. I recovered then inherited second place when Lancaster made another ‘interesting’ move. I had made a mistake in qualifying which was disappointing for me but made the best of a bad job by getting on the front row.”
Sam Hignett. Partner, JOTA Group: “I’m hugely proud of the JOTA team. All three drivers were magnificent. Filipe got us into the lead with a stunning double stint. Simon drove like a hero in his double while Harry was awesome. The mechanics also performed brilliantly – turning the quickest time at each of our pit-stops. That said, I felt that the driving standards of some of our competitors left a lot to be desired. It’s a shame that no action was taken for what I, and many other impartial observers, viewed as dangerous manoeuvres that went unpunished.”