Thunderhead Carlin Racing can be pleased with the progress made this weekend following the conclusion of the second round of the 2019 European Le Mans Series in Monza, Italy. The trio of British drivers consisting of Jack Manchester, Harry Tincknell and Ben Barnicoat made a good step forward with a strong qualifying performance however luck was not on their side with aggressive fuel saving throughout the race and badly timed full course yellow and safety car periods leaving the team somewhat on the backfoot. Regardless, the team can be satisfied with an increase in pace and another reliable race for the Dallara P217 Gibson car.
Thunderhead Carlin Racing proved real pace in Monza this weekend with two strong Free Practice sessions and a brilliant qualifying performance from Barnicoat. Barnicoat had set the sixth fastest time however had his best lap deleted due to a track limits infringement. This didn’t dampen the teams’ spirits as they went on to line up tenth on the grid for the 4 Hours of Monza.
Behind the wheel for the first stint it was Manchester who formed up as the lights went green; keeping his start nice and clean the young Brit enjoyed a solid opening showing before handing over to Barnicoat for the second stint. Barnicoat sped out on to track and quickly gained position including a fantastic overtake for sixth, however he was hampered somewhat with intensive fuel saving mode at the end of his stint before handing the Dallara P217 back to Manchester who, with more fuel on board, was able to pound in lap after lap around the Italian circuit.
Badly timed full course yellow and Safety car periods played their part soon after though; arriving just after the Thunderhead Carlin Racing car had pitted and therefore gaining the team no advantage whatsoever and putting them on the backfoot. Manchester held well upon a safety car restart and remained cool, calm and collected to maintain his position before pitting and handing the controls back to Barnicoat once again.
Building on the progress, Barnicoat went behind the wheel once again for his second stint in what was becoming a tough race. Managing the fuel consumption well for the strategy Barnicoat enjoyed a solid stint to bring the car in for another stop.
Having waited long enough it was finally time for Tincknell to take his place behind the wheel for a double stint. The experienced racer bolted on to the track with a singular focus of finishing the race with the best position possible. However once again the full course yellow periods on track played their part and there was little improvement to be had. Tincknell pushed incredibly hard and took the chequered flag in 11th position, just outside of the top ten, after the dramatic race. However the team can be incredibly proud to have once again finished the race with a reliable performance and step up in terms of competitiveness from Paul Ricard.
Manchester said of the race, “Honestly, it was a little bit bittersweet. We knew that we had the pace after a good test but we still struggled a little. We have definitely made progress through and Ben was really unfortunate to lose out with his fuel saving and the safety car to go down a lap. We just couldn’t recover from that. I think we definitely have the car for consistent top eight finishes, so we need to go away now in the gap between races and build on what we’ve achieved as a team.”
Barnicoat said, “The first stint was going quite well for me to be honest and I was making the most of the traffic out there and was able to get past cars ahead but as Jack said, we were very unlucky with the fuel saving which cost us a lot of time unfortunately – and then losing track position because of the safety car was also a shame. During my second stint, once again, the pace was strong and I was able to overtake the car in fourth [a lap down] so it shows that the speed was there. We’ve made a great improvement with the car and we’re getting closer to the front guys. It was a great job from Jack and Harry – we just need luck on our side in Barcelona
Tincknell added, “I definitely think we can take loads of positives from this weekend. Watching Jack take the start and seeing how quickly he’s getting to grips with challenges such as fuel saving and dealing with traffic has been amazing for someone so early in their endurance racing career. We had a good strategy, but we were just a little too unlucky today with saving fuel and the safety car – nonetheless, the team did a great job; the pit stops are looking good and everyone’s working well together too. We deserved a top eight finish, but it was positive to see us fighting with those ahead on track. Now we need to get out and do some more testing and spend more time on the sim together as we keep working towards our goal as team.”
The team now have a long break before the next round gets underway in Barcelona towards the end of July.