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WEC Monza

"Underdog" Proton targets finish on WEC Hypercar debut - Tincknell

Proton Competition Porsche driver Harry Tincknell says he's enjoying being an "underdog" on the team's World Endurance Championship Hypercar debut at Monza, and believes finishing would be an "unbelievable result".

#99 Proton Competition Porsche 963: Gianmaria Bruni, Harry Tincknell, Neel Jani

The privateer German squad, a staple of the GTE Am class, only received its Porsche 963 LMDh one week before the fifth round of the WEC following a shakedown at Weissach in the hands of Kevin Estre.

It had no opportunity to test the chassis prior to practice commencing on Friday.

Tincknell, who shares the car with Gianmaria Bruni and Neel Jani, explained that "every lap is a learning lap" for Proton as it seeks to catch its rivals.

He qualified 12th in the 13-car Hypercar field on Saturday, 1.3s down on polesitter Kamui Kobayashi's Toyota, after a set-up choice "didn’t really work" and meant he "lost a bit of balance".

"It’s quite nice being underdogs, no-one really expects anything of you," he told Autosport.

"Actually you’re the ones who have to grind, working twice as hard because we’ve got so much catching up to do.

"But that’s quite a nice position to be in if you’re willing to do it. I think ultimately we’ve seen that the package is getting closer."

The two-time Le Mans 24 Hours class-winner, who is contracted to Porsche's technical partner Multimatic, explained that Proton is running "a very skeleton crew" for its maiden Hypercar outing with "probably two or three staff less than what we will be" and also currently lacks certain parts.

#99 Proton Competition Porsche 963: Gianmaria Bruni, Harry Tincknell, Neel Jani

#99 Proton Competition Porsche 963: Gianmaria Bruni, Harry Tincknell, Neel Jani

Photo by: Eric Le Galliot

"Even if we wanted to run certain set-ups, we can’t run them because we don’t have everything yet," he said.

As such, Tincknell believes "the job the team has done shouldn’t be underestimated" to be within seven tenths of the best works-entered 963 that qualified eighth.

"We’re just learning every session, we’re trying different stuff," said Tincknell, who becomes the first driver to race in five WEC classes dating back to his maiden season of sportscar racing with LMP2 squad Jota Sport in 2014.

"We’ve been on the simulator but this is the first time driving in real life so we can’t yet fully trust the simulator, although everything we’re doing so far is pretty good.

"You look at the gap to the other Porsches, its close.

"I’ve had a smile on my face the whole weekend. Each session we’ve just got faster. It’s awesome we can challenge the other Porsche cars and LMDh cars."

Tincknell added that a race finish is the key priority for the programme as it seeks to log miles with the car and will as such adopt a no-risk approach in the six hours.

"We just want to have a clean race and I think that would be an absolutely unbelievable result," he said.

"We’ve just done our first driver changes now, Saturday night at the fifth round of the world championship. It shouldn’t be underestimated how far behind we are, but I just want to get as many laps as I can and finish the race.

#99 Proton Competition Porsche 963: Harry Tincknell

#99 Proton Competition Porsche 963: Harry Tincknell

Photo by: Eric Le Galliot

"We all want to learn, we’re just desperate to learn. The goal really coming in is to go away knowing a lot more than what we started with.

"If we have any issues we’re just going to stop and fix and then go again.

"We’re not here this weekend really to try and get trophies. Of course it would be lovely, but it’s a test weekend for the future."

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Team boss Christian Ried echoed Tincknell's optimism and told Autosport that he was "really happy" with the car's performance so far.

"As we did no testing before, this is our first outing with the car, it’s quite like a test," he said.

"Our main thing is to finish the race without any issues and then we will see."

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