Smaller Le Mans GTE field "won't feel much different"
The fight for GTE Pro class honours in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours will "not feel much different" despite the massively reduced size of the field in the class compared to 2019, reckons Harry Tincknell.
Following the exit of both Ford and BMW from the FIA World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro division at the end of the 2018/19 superseason, Le Mans was already set for a considerably smaller class grid than last year's bumper 17-car contingent.
But the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the French classic to be postponed until September, prompted Corvette Racing and Porsche's North American cars to withdraw, cutting the size of the field from 11 cars to eight.
Two Ferrari 488 GTEs from Risi Competizione and WeatherTech Racing, which moves up from the GTE Am ranks, are the only GTE Pro cars now set to take part in the race besides the six full-season WEC entries from Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin.
But Tincknell believes that whichever manufacturer comes out on top this year "won't have done any less of a good job" than in previous years, owing to the quality of the field.
"I think at the front it won’t feel much different," Tincknell told Motorsport.com. "Whether there are 17 cars or eight cars, it will be just as hard to win.
"With 17 cars, some will have issues and some manufacturers will be faster than others, but at the sharp end, the top five or six will always be good. So no doubt it will be exceptionally hard.
"It will be marginally easier to have a setback and come back from that, because you don’t have to fight back through as many cars, it might keep things closer, there’s also less chance of the field being split up by a safety car.
"I guess less cars means more chance to win on paper, but I don’t think the winning team this year will have done any less of a good job than in the previous couple of years, because the level is still so high."
#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, Jonathan Bomarito
Photo by: Paul Foster
Having been part of the Ford stable for the past four editions of Le Mans, finishing second in class in 2017, Tincknell switches to Aston Martin for the 2020 race.
The British driver feels that the unusual circumstances of this year's race generally, with COVID-19 protocols and a lack of spectator presence, will mean every driver is having to adapt slightly and lessens the disadvantage of having to learn a new car.
"For me personally, I’m going to be adapting to a new environment at Aston Martin, which I’m looking forward to," Tincknell said. "But with no fans, it might play into my hands because everyone is going to be adapting to a slightly strange atmosphere.
"Obviously I’m going to be trying to get up to speed as quick as I can, but it just means everyone is in a slightly different environment, which could make more of a level playing field."
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