Former Ford GTE/GTLM drivers Harry Tincknell (pictured at right, above) and Richard Westbrook (left) have found a new home for the Le Mans 24 Hours. They will return to the GTE Pro ranks in 2020 with a new factory team, Aston Martin Racing.
Westbrook, a regular in IMSA who has class wins at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Sebring 12 Hours, will race in the No. 95 Vantage AMR alongside Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen. The Danish duo currently lead the GTE Pro world championship after two wins in the 2019 leg of the 2019/20 FIA WEC season.
“I think for anyone, racing for Aston Martin is something you can be extremely proud of but being British makes it that little bit more special,” said Westbrook. “Aston Martin Racing is leading the world championship and they are an elite team, with the best quality engineers and mechanics all the way through. And the car is really singing on top note right now, so it’s a good time to be joining.
“I’m excited to be working with Nicki again — we raced together in the Nurburgring 24 Hours in 2014, and I found that we were quite similar in the way we worked and what we wanted from the car. I’ve never driven alongside Marco, but I have raced against him and I’ve only ever heard and seen good things. I know I am going to fit right in, and that is really important at a race like Le Mans.”
Tincknell, a class winner at Le Mans on his race debut in LMP2 back in 2014 with Jota Sport, has been a regular factory driver since. He has driven for Ford and Nissan in the FIA WEC in recent years and still competes with Mazda Team Joest in IMSA. He will race at La Sarthe as the third driver in the No. 97 alongside fellow Briton Alex Lynn and Belgian ace Maxime Martin.
“I’m going to try and support Aston as best I can — Max and Alex are right up there in the championship. I’ll be available for the other races if required; we’ll wait and see,” Tincknell told RACER. “It’s a busy time of the year for me right now, but we’re going to make a plan. There will be some testing involved beforehand.
“Last year when I was racing against the Vantage AMR it appeared that its weakness was in the tire, whether or not they could hang on for a whole stint. But the new tire looks like it suits the car better — it’s an all-round car now. It’ll be interesting to get behind the wheel — I haven’t driven a front-engined car since the Nissan LMP1 days.”
Tincknell says he is pleased that some of his other former teammates from the Ford GT program are finding new homes for 2020.
“This is great for Westy too to be in the No. 95. He did a great job in IMSA the last four years. As for my other Ford teammates, Ryan’s (Briscoe) is in the No. 10 (Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac) car in IMSA and Seb (Bourdais) also is now in IMSA as well. Andy (Priaulx)’s coming to form in World Touring Cars as well.
“It (Ford Chip Ganassi) was a really high-level program — we learned masses from it, not only in experience but also just in how to communicate with the team, how to how to set a car up, how to develop a car. Hopefully I can bring some of this to Aston.”
Aston Martin’s GTE Am line-up for its No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage remains unchanged for Le Mans. The full-season trio of Paul Dalla Lana, Darren Turner and Ross Gunn will race in France as planned.
Last year at Le Mans 2017 GTE Pro Le Mans winners Darren Turner and Jonny Adam were Aston Martin’s nominated third drivers for the 24 Hours. While they won’t return to GTE Pro in June, both will drive Aston Martins in the race, with Turner in the No. 98 and Adam in TF Sport’s GTE-Am Vantage.
The FIA WEC returns to action next month in the first of two races in the United States in the second half of the current WEC season. The championship heads to Circuit of The Americas on February 22-23 before the teams head to Sebring for another doubleheader with IMSA. The 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place on June 13-14.