The 6 Hours of Spa is traditionally the dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, providing the teams with a final opportunity to hone their cars and their crews for “the big one”. There is no better run-up to Le Mans than winning at Spa, and that is exactly what Multimatic partner, Dempsey-Proton Racing just did.
Multimatic drivers, Harry Tincknell and Sebastian Priaulx, have joined Christian Ried in the #77 Porsche 911 RSR for the full World Endurance Championship season in 2022, along with a strong crew made-up of members of Proton Competition and Multimatic Motorsports operations and engineering teams. After a late race red flag scuppered their shot at a podium during the first round at Sebring, it was time for things to go their way.
Nestled in the Belgian Ardennes forest, Spa-Francorchamps regularly delivers a biblical rain storm or two and this year’s race was no exception. The rain-affected race was interrupted by three red flags and multiple full course yellows and safety car periods but the #77 Porsche came through the chaos to take the win.
Christian Ried started the race from his sixth place qualifying position and put in a strong drive, despite a couple of teams fielding their pro drivers at the start. He had a trouble-free opening hour but then once the first red flag fell in Hour 2, they just kept coming.
Priaulx was up next and had to go into immediate survival mode as this was his first run in the wet at Spa. Seb, being a Priaulx, soon found his footing and began moving forward, making decisive passes on the cars ahead. With just over an hour of the race remaining, he had moved right up into second place and was starting to trouble the class leader, before it was time to hand the #77 Porsche over to Tincknell.
The rain had stopped and the plan was to switch to slick tyres for the run to the flag, as long as the track was dry enough. A full course yellow five laps before Seb was due to pit meant that the team had to gamble and send Tincknell out early on slicks.
There was a dry line at this point but just off it the track was slippery as ice. Tincknell was happy that the tyres turned on quickly and he was able to pass a couple of Ferraris and start to close in on the Aston Martins running 1-2.
At the next full course yellow, the Astons both pitted and Tincknell took the lead.
A discussion with Multimatic race engineer, Vince Libertucci, concluded that it was time to gamble and stay out. Tincknell’s fuel-saving skills, honed during the Mazda DPi campaign, came to the fore and he kept hold of his track position.
One final full course yellow with 20 minutes to go played to the team’s chosen hand as Harry could stop fuel saving, cool his tyres and prepare for the inevitable attack that was going to come from Marco Sørensen’s and Niki Thiim’s stalking Aston Martin Vantages.
Tincknell switched to “win or bust” mode, going maximum attack to keep the lead and crossed the line in first place in the GTE Am class!
“I was delighted to get the win at Spa,” said Tincknell. “It felt very sweet. I’m really enjoying my time with Proton; which is now a great mix of Proton and Multimatic personnel. It was good to see everyone so happy at the end and I was told this win makes me the first driver to win for three different GT manufacturers in WEC and the first driver to win in three different classes in WEC! This win has reignited my love of Spa after having a few difficult races, and a big crash there. It was also great to see the changes made at the circuit have improved the safety but kept the spirit and the lure of the track alive.
“This win puts us in a good place for Le Mans,” continued Tincknell. “The team spirit is high and we are ready for it. It’s an exciting time for Seb as it will be his first Le Mans. I tried to win it many times with his Dad but we never quite made it!”
The win at Spa is Seb Priaulx’s first ever World Championship race win so it is a great milestone for the young Guernseyman who is the reigning Porsche Carrera Cup North America Champion.
“It feels fantastic to win at Spa,” said Priaulx. “I was blown away by the team this weekend as everyone did such an amazing job. I had two very tough stints in very tricky conditions but they got me through it. To win together at only our second race gives me high hopes for the rest of the season. It also gives me a lot of confidence heading into Le Mans so I’m very happy.”
Photo credit: Porsche Motorsport