A timely tribute to the 30th anniversary of its 24 Hour Le Mans win
Mazda’s #55 RT24-P race car romped off to a big victory at the 2021 Sahlen’s 6 Hours of the Glen, scoring a repeat of its first win back in 2019.
It was the year’s first victory for Mazda Motorsports that also coincided with the 30th anniversary of Mazda’s historic 24 Hours of Le Mans win in 1991 with the #55 Mazda 787B race car. Victory was attained with a combination of outstanding team work and inspired driving as Harry Tincknell crossed the line with just a fraction of a second ahead of driver Olivier Pla in the #60 MSR race car.
The six-hour battle needed every crew and drivers Tincknell, Oliver Jarvis and Jonathan Bomarito to make sure the car performed at its best and pit crew had to make flawless pit stops while its engineers made sure all the data and numbers allowed them to have the best strategies out there.
The team had a tough start at the first practice session, encountering both set-up and engine related challenges. But these were sorted out and at Sunday morning’s warm-up the car had set the fastest lap but an overnight engine change meant Jarvis had to start in sixth place, as he would have to start from the back of the class.
On the 5th hour of the race, Tincknell found himself chasing former F1 driver Kevin Magnussen in his #01 Cadillac for second place with over 15 seconds behind the lead car. A major crash caused a Full Course Yellow only seven laps to go. Fuel management became more critical than ever, and the team was intent on controlling the race from the front, which they felt was the only way to win.
All the teams were balancing the fuel remaining in the tank and real time consumption against the time remaining, or more importantly the laps left in the race. While the safety teams cleaned up the track, and the race clock ticked down, and with 37 minutes to go the race went green and Tincknell carefully managed a fuel-sipping drive and as car #55 controlled the pace, it made sure the numbers were spot on for both fuel consumption and the number of laps left in the race. The last two laps were a duel on who will bag the race and the car had just the right amount of reserves to fuel its win.
Here’s what the drivers had to say:
“The whole weekend was a fantastic team effort from Mazda and Multimatic. I think all three of us did the job in the car but, my gosh, the mechanics and the guys and girls on the stand were just incredible. To get me out in the lead with 40 minutes to go was the key moment. I knew it was going to be very tight and I wasn’t going to be able to go flat out all the way as we had to save fuel. I could see Oli (Pla) coming at the end but I had the call on the last lap to go flat out so I knew at that point that we would be okay. I ran out of fuel at Turn 7 on the slowing down lap, which just shows we had the perfect strategy and the perfect engineering from Multimatic to get us to the line.”
“It’s an amazing feeling to win here, not least because it’s one of my favourite tracks. We’re in the championship hunt and we’ve said all along that we need to take consistent podiums but we also want the wins. To do it in this fashion where we didn’t have the quickest car – we made some big changes as we went through the sessions and found the direction for the race and that really shows the strength of this team. We had to work harder this weekend than we ever have before to get a chance of the win. To get it the team had to execute perfectly and the drivers couldn’t afford any mistakes. This is a very special win. It’s my first in the #55 and a nice point in the championship to take a win like this.”
“I love sharing a car with these guys. They’re competitors, they’re warriors and they are flat out the whole time and that’s what it takes in this class in this series. It was a flat out race with some brilliant fuel-saving finesse at the end. I was listening on the radio up in the stand to all the math and calculations. I wish everyone could hear and experience it because it’s neat to hear the engineers crunching the numbers and trying to calculate the end of the race. If Harry had been four seconds further up the road we would have had to do one more lap and probably would have run out of gas so that’s how close they are calculating the fuel and that’s pretty cool to see.”
This win meant that both Tincknell and Jarvis are closing in on the leaders in the drivers’ championship, with Mazda Motorsports having the same trajectory in the teams’ standings. The next race will be on July 2nd, the WeatherTech 240 which also takes place at Watkins Glen.
Alvin Uy wears many hats, foremost among them being an executive for a home improvement chain and real estate developer and part of a family-owned chemical business. Aside from writing about motoring news and car reviews, he loves to write about traveling, food and wine reviews, mechanical timepieces and classic cars.