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Friday favourite: The British duo that captured Ford global glory

Andy Priaulx has raced with countless stellar names in a long and decorated career in touring cars and sportscars, but it was only in more recent times that the treble world champion worked with the driver he picks out as his favourite team-mate. He reflects on his three years racing with Harry Tincknell for Ford in a relationship that continues today as fellow Multimatic drivers

#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell

By comparison with his earlier career in touring cars that yielded titles in four consecutive seasons, the four World Endurance Championship GTE Pro wins Andy Priaulx scored as part of the Ford GT programme appear small fry. Yet the Guernseyman regards his first three-and-a-bit years of his ongoing relationship with Multimatic as one of the most enjoyable periods of his career. And that goes some way to explaining Priaulx’s choice of Harry Tincknell as his favourite team-mate.

A hat-trick of World Touring Car Championship titles with BMW, coming after he’d won the 2004 European crown, established Priaulx as one of the world’s best drivers, rated at number nine in Autosport’s 2005 top 50. It was “definitely one of the most successful parts of my career,” Priaulx acknowledges, before adding “it wasn’t one of the most enjoyable” as he was still building his name and “had an awful lot of pressure from BMW” to keep performing.

Priaulx had spent over a decade at the Munich marque and knew “the longest part of the career was behind me” when he joined Larry Holt’s Multimatic organisation for 2016. By this time, he had a different approach to team-mates.

“It was only towards the end of my career that I’ve become very friendly with several,” Priaulx says, citing long-time BMW team-mate Augusto Farfus as one driver he’s become friendly with “since we stopped racing together”.

Friday favourite: Augusto Farfus picks his favourite track 

But it's Tincknell, who he partnered for the 26-race duration of the Ford GT in the WEC, that Priaulx picks as his favourite. In contrast with racing in single-driver tin-top series where “you are having to be totally selfish and relentlessly determined to even find a tenth to make or break your weekend”, his time at Ford “was more an enjoyable pressure” where he relished working in “a non-political environment”.

To Priaulx, who remains a Multimatic driver after stepping away from his last full-time racing programme with the Cyan Racing WTCR squad in 2020, Tincknell was “an absolute pleasure” to race with.

“I don’t think I could have been with a better team-mate,” Priaulx says. “He was on the up, he was a well-established sportscar racer with a big future ahead. I was in my early 40s and still at a high level.

Priaulx and Tincknell won four times during the course of the Ford GT programme, three of those as a duo

Priaulx and Tincknell won four times during the course of the Ford GT programme, three of those as a duo

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“I was able to teach him a thing or two and he also showed me a good level as well. It was a very mutually enjoyable performance-enhancing environment, which is something you don’t get very often because with sportscar racing it’s all compromise.

“Through Harry I learned another way to work as well, which was much more global. I didn’t have to always be the guy qualifying, I didn’t have to be the guy setting the fastest laps in the race. I think Harry will say that the relationship he had with me was one of gaining experience, learning how to work at a high level and I kept him on his toes as well.”

As well as building the new Ford GT, Multimatic also operated it under the Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK banner. Effectively this was an all-new operation with plenty of learning to do.

Tincknell was in a similar boat. He’d arrived from the disastrous, short-lived Nissan LMP1 project that was canned after its sole race outing at Le Mans and had never previously raced a GT car, having shot to prominence during his first year of sportscars in 2014 when he’d won the LMP2 class at Le Mans with Jota. The 18-year age gap between the two contributed to Priaulx adopting a “father-figure role, just managing the environment and keeping Harry in the right mindset”.

"Harry and I both wanted a very similar car. Very often towards the end, we were just looking at each other and we knew what we wanted" Andy Priaulx

“He’s a clever guy, he didn’t need lots of help from me,” explains Priaulx. “But in terms of set-up I was very experienced and it was an open book, I laid everything out.

“Harry was very much open-minded to learn and at the same time I gave him pretty much all of my knowledge which he was receptive for. We built a tremendous performance within the team; we went from a new team to a very good team in a very short space of time.

“It’s not very often I don’t have any negative feedback on a team but towards the end of the programme, I thought ‘I really can’t fault these guys’. There was zero energy spent on politics. It was all just working on the car and working on your performance.”

Priaulx and Tincknell were joined by several third drivers during the programme, including Marino Franchitti, Pipo Derani, Tony Kanaan and Jonathan Bomarito. The British duo also raced alone on 13 occasions. But the continuity with Tincknell meant Priaulx headed into every weekend knowing “we would perform to a good level, that we would bring the car to a good set-up, and both of us would be working well to raise the bar”.

Priaulx says the pair were usually in agreement on set-up direction which aided their performance against stiff competition

Priaulx says the pair were usually in agreement on set-up direction which aided their performance against stiff competition

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

This contributed to back-to-back WEC victories at Fuji and Shanghai in 2016, followed by wins at Silverstone and Shanghai the following year, a season that included an IMSA SportsCar Championship cameo in the Daytona 24 Hours. They also finished second at Le Mans in 2017 while a consistent 2018-19 ‘superseason’ in the Ford GT’s last hurrah yielded four podium finishes and two pole positions.

“That’s why I was upset it kind of ended too early,” Priaulx says. “That was for me one or two years too early to finish because we were in such a good place. The car had a good few seasons in it and it still had lots of potential going forward, which was a great shame really.”

Priaulx cites the 2019 pole at Spa, in his penultimate WEC appearance, as proof “we were working at a good level”. They again outqualified the #66 Ford of Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla in the programme’s final outing at Le Mans, which put the head-to-head 14-12 in favour of the #67 crew. Only in 2016 when #67 lost out by half a point would the sister car finish a season ahead in the standings - and most of that margin given up at Le Mans where the #66 took a double points finishing third in GTE Pro while the #67 lost two laps to gearbox woes before the start.

“If Harry was the man for that race, I would push Harry forward and if I was the man I would push myself forward,” Priaulx says. “Harry and I both wanted a very similar car. Very often towards the end, we were just looking at each other and we knew what we wanted, we just took care of each other on the set-up.

“Some drivers are so far apart on the set-up, you end up with such a big yo-yo-ing of requirements from the car from session to session; one guy wants it pinned on the nose and one guy wants a stable rear. But Harry and I, what we wanted from the car was pretty similar. I knew when he got in and did some running, I’d jump in and say ‘yep, that’s the same for me’ and vice versa. That’s what made it very strong.

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“Towards the end of our time together Harry really did become the much more complete driver, he was definitely much stronger on set-up than when he started. There was never any doubt about his speed because he was winning good races before he joined us, but the two came together quite nicely.”

Priaulx’s son Seb raced with Tincknell during his first WEC campaign in 2022, taking victories in the GTE Am class at Spa and Monza with Christian Reid’s Proton team. Tincknell has now stepped up to the Hypercar class with Proton’s customer Porsche 963 LMDh, but Priaulx Jr’s Multimatic-contracted status means they could well drive together again.

“Seb really looks up to Harry and I think their careers at Multimatic are going to take many good steps, hopefully together,” says Priaulx. “If there’s one team-mate that I could choose for Seb to be with, it would be Harry because he’s a straightforward guy. The two of them together would be a tough combination to beat in a sportscar right now.”

Priaulx Jr has also won in the WEC alongside Tincknell, and Priaulx Sr hopes the partnership will one day be reprised

Priaulx Jr has also won in the WEC alongside Tincknell, and Priaulx Sr hopes the partnership will one day be reprised

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

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