You win some, you lose some, and with a massively successful weekend for Multimatic racer Sebastian Priaulx in the Porsche Carrera Cup at Indianapolis, the Multimatic Motorsports team had hoped some of that magic would come the way of the Mazda Motorsports DPi effort at Laguna Seca. Unfortunately, the team had to settle for a frustrating fifth in Round 8 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Harry Tincknell wrestled the #55 Mazda onto the second row of the grid in fourth place, after discovering that the optimal set-up developed during the second practice session wouldn’t pass the ride height plank wear criteria and the RT24-P had to be raised, causing a significant degradation to its downforce. The car was then demoted to sixth place after post session tech discovered an irregularity in the car’s camber settings caused by an off-track excursion in the Corkscrew when Tincknell pushed slightly past its greatly reduced capability.
It was down to Harry to take the start of the two hour, 40 minute race and he knew he had a hard job ahead of him. Track position is important at Laguna Seca so the Briton made sure he jumped the #5 Cadillac with a great move at Turn 1 as soon as he could, then set off after Pipo Derani, who was in fourth place in the #31 Cadillac.
At the first pit stop, Tincknell came in on the tail of the #01 Cadillac of Kevin Magnussen. Slick work from the Multimatic crew got him out ahead of the Ganassi car, but Magnussen quickly managed to get by, the Mazda’s downforce deficit giving the Dane an advantage as the Cadillac’s tyres came in faster that the those on the #55.
Tincknell pushed hard to run down the pack but then found himself stuck behind the #5 Cadillac again as it had pitted out of sync. This blunted Tincknell’s charge considerably until he finally managed to pass the #5 for the second time.
With 1.5 hours remaining, Tincknell pitted from fourth place to hand the Mazda over to Oliver Jarvis, who continued slugging it out, running a strong and consistent pace, matching the lead pack but unable to gain on them. At the end, the task was unsurmountable and the team had to settle for fifth place at the flag.
“A frustrating race for us,” said Tincknell. “I lost around 20 seconds behind the #5 Cadillac before I could get past him the second time. Both Olly and I gave it everything we had and with one more lap we could have got past the #60 as they were fuel saving but that’s all. We’ll regroup and work it all out before we get to Long Beach.”
Tincknell and Jarvis remain in third place in the drivers’ standings and Mazda remains third in the teams’ table. It is going to take two huge results in the final two races for the team to pull off a championship victory but, as they say, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
Multimatic Motorsports boss, Larry Holt, said: “As I stated coming into this race, this track and it’s low grip surface have always been a unique challenge for the Mazda RT24-P, and so it was again, other than in FP2 when Harry went P1. Unfortunately we were running our known optimal aero set-up which was subsequently deemed illegal due to the plank wear caused by the track’s unique characteristics. When we cranked it up before Qualifying a load of downforce got knocked out of the car and Harry actually reported that he felt something was broken on his first flying lap. Nothing was actually broken but the car’s behaviour had changed so radically that it felt like it was. Harry then pushed so hard that he had an off in the Corkscrew and then something was actually a bit broken but he put in his fastest lap to grab P4. Not sure what he would have squeezed out of it had it been undamaged in those last few laps. Post session the floor was badly damaged and the camber had been knocked out of tolerance so we went to the back. The advantage was that we took four new tires for the race start without penalty, but being stuck behind everybody on a track that has few safe places to pass neutralized the benefit. Our alternative strategy to take a risk on pit-stops ultimately became everybody’s approach and we just got hung out at the back. Oliver had a strong drive but he was already 30 seconds back of the leader when he got in, so not much chance of gaining any spots other than the #60 being on an alternative strategy some seven laps short of making it to the end. Except they did, a miracle that has still not been explained to us.”