Dolan, Gené & Tincknell score excellent second place in Le Mans “warm-up”
JOTA Sport achieved its third top-three podium result in consecutive years at Spa-Francorchamps when Simon Dolan, Marc Gené and Harry Tincknell brought their Zytek Z11SN home an excellent second in Belgium today.
The Dolan/Gené/Tincknell Zytek finished 71.196secs behind the LMP2 class winning car in the Spa 6 Hours which marked the British team’s first of two FIA World Endurance Championship appearances in 2014.
JOTA Sport, which had won the LMP2 class in the corresponding race in 2012 and finished third last year, qualified fourth fastest in the ultra-competitive LMP2 field thanks to the efforts of Tincknell and Gené in difficult and ever-changing conditions the previous day.
The time trials had seen the Zytek equipped with Dunlop “wet” weather, intermediate and ultimately “slick” tyres as the track progressively dried throughout the 30mins session on Friday evening.
The sun was shining and rain long gone for the start of the race on Saturday afternoon which saw Tincknell take second place after the opening scheduled pit-stop phase for fuel with 42mins gone.
Tincknell, who was not only making his WEC debut but having his first race for JOTA Sport after not actually getting into the Zytek for the Silverstone ELMS race following Dolan’s unfortunate accident, handed over the second-placed Zytek to Simon with 90mins on the clock.
Solid stints from Dolan saw the Monaco-based Briton give the car to three-time Spa 6 Hour outright race winner Gené actually placed first during another pit-stop phase at mid-distance.
Gené, on loan from Audi Sport for Spa and the Le Mans 24 Hours and making his JOTA Sport race debut, ran impressively giving the Zytek, again heading its class during out of synch pits-stops with its rivals, to Tincknell for the final 35mins run to the chequered flag.
JOTA Sport used a monocoque from two years ago for the Spa race after the massive accident suffered by Dolan while leading the opening European Le Mans Series race at Silverstone on Easter Saturday that had necessitated a herculean effort by the team.
Next race for JOTA is the second ELMS race of the season at Imola (17-18 May) before the Le Mans 24 Hours (14-15 June).
Simon Dolan (GB). Age 44. Born: Chelmsford, Essex. Lives: Monaco (MC):
“A couple of weeks ago I’m lying on a stretcher and now I am standing on a podium in a world championship race! Realistically P2 was a fair result and I’m really happy in the way that we all performed.
“We all drove well and were consistent and is great in terms of our prep for Le Mans which is what Spa is about for us.
“My first stint was fine, and then when I went out with full fuel on my second stint, the grip was not so good possibly due to the temperature and the track ‘rubbering in.”
Marc Gené (ES). Age 40. Born: Sabadell (ES). Lives: Barcelona (ES):
“It has been a very good debut with JOTA for me – it couldn’t really have been any better. Since the first time I was in the Zytek, I always had a good feeling. “The team is extremely professional and there is a great atmosphere with them and my team-mates.
"The Zytek was very good today and I also had a lot of fun. I like driving the LMP2 car, through the corners it is like LMP1, I don’t have to change my driving style, so I am fast straight away and that is most important. I did three consecutive stints. We were consistently quick in the middle sector.”
Harry Tincknell (GB). Age: 22. Born: Exeter, Devon. Lives: Sidmouth, Devon (GB):
“To finish my first WEC race on the podium is very satisfying. At Silverstone I proved I was quick over one lap when I claimed pole-position but hopefully I’ve shown the team that I have good race pace in traffic and that I’m able to manage my fuel consumption too.
"In my opening stint, I lost time behind the LMP1 Rebellion of ex-Formula One driver Nick Heidfeld who was fast in a straight line but slower than me around corners. It was a perfect two days and sets me up nicely not only for the next ELMS race but Le Mans next month.”
Sam Hignett. Partner, JOTA Group:
“I’m very happy to have finished second to record the team’s third WEC podium at Spa. We will go through the data and figure out where we lost time to the winner – some of which was early on due to the Rebellion’s pace.
“Most importantly, the result achieved by our fine performance on track by Harry, Mark and Simon, is a ‘pay back’ to our small but dedicated team who rebuilt the Zytek in a very short time following our Silverstone accident – so hat’s off to them.
“We’ll head to Imola in two weeks with this confidence boosting result looking to get our ELMS title challenge underway while of course this is a great warm-up for Le Mans.”