Four races remain in the GTE Pro Championship title fight with the #67 Ford Chip Gannasi Racing GT leading the way. DSC was able to sit down one-on-one with Harry Ticknell, driver of the #67 to get an idea of his thoughts coming into the race here at the Circuit of The Americas, and the the three-race run to the end of the season.
Both of the Fords struggled in Mexico, due to the long wheel base of the car doing no favors for the drivers throughout the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez’s slow and tight corners. Despite these difficulties the #67 still managed a fourth place finish.
“We knew we didn’t have the overall pace. Still a little unfavorable in the BOP, so with all those factors to come out P4 was really good.” Ticnknell added that himself and teammate Andy Prialux have “managed to get through the carnage as unscaved as possible.”
Circuit of The Americas though is a much different track compared to Mexico City. CoTA suits the Ford, and Tincknell compared Sector 1 at CoTA to Maggots and Becketts at Silverstone, a section of turns that the car performed very well in at the start of the season.
The Fords also have turbo boost pressure increase for CoTA, the GT being the only car in GTE Pro to have a BoP change. The increase in boost pressure is very small but Ticknell was still very pleased with the change.
“The one thing that it might be hard to see from the outside but it will certainly help in the car is passing the Ams. They would pull away off the corner and then you’ve got no chance to actually pass them, and then you get held up in the next corner.”
With the increase in boost though, the Fords now, “have the power to stick with them and then overtake in the next corner. That can save you 8-10 seconds in the race, but it is a little invisible because its very hard to see.”
We are in to tyre compounds that we have not run this year. The tyres are somewhere on the crossover between medium and hard, and its hard to know what everyone is running
The biggest challenge for teams this weekend though, will be the extremely hot temperatures and the very high tyre degradation. LMP2 drivers complained of losing anywhere from 3-6 seconds over a stint on just tyre loss alone.
“We are in to tyre compounds that we have not run this year. The tyres are somewhere on the crossover between medium and hard, and its hard to know what everyone is running [In practice and Qualifying]. I would say we are strong, but Aston Martin look good.”
Specifically on tyre degradation, Ticknell pointed out that “it’s going to be massive, but it’s also going to be crucial, it’s great to get the point in qualifying but it means absolutely nothing if your tyres have gone. If you push to hard you can kill them in the first five or six laps. Andy was running at the end of that session [FP2] on completely finished tires and he was six seconds off.”
The championship fight is heating up and good point scoring finishes are becoming ever more crucial for teams in the hunt for the title. When asked about the championship Ticknell said he has been taking it one race at a time.
“We’ve driving each race as its own event, and maximizing that.” “I’m trying my hardest to not think about the championship.”
“While we haven’t been competitive that fourth place can make a difference compared to what could have been a sixth or seventh.”
As far as the three races after CoTA in Fuji, Shanghai, and Bahrain, Ticknell believes that they should hit a sweet spot.
We’re coming to tracks we can win at. We need to grab those chances with both hands.
“We’re coming to tracks we can win at. We need to grab those chances with both hands. We are not going to change anything because we lead the championship. We’ve just got to keep doing what were doing because its worked so far.”
The #67 ended Free Practice 1 and 2 in second place, once behind their teammate the #66, and once behind the #95 Aston Martin. They also qualified in second and will role of the grid for the race with the #71 AF Corse Ferrari to the inside of them.
The FIA WEC Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas kicks off at 12:00 local time today.