Strakka signs off era of open-topped LMP2 cars at Le Mans with fourth in class and eighth placed overall
With a trouble-free run, attacking drive and the swiftest pit work, Silverstone-based Strakka Racing claimed a strong fourth in the highly competitive and 23-strong LMP2 class resulting in eighth overall from 60 starters at the 84th Le Mans 24 Hours. After 24 hours and 351 laps of racing in front of over 263,000 spectators, British drivers Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts delivered a seamless and near 100% reliable performance, needing only to change the steering wheel and regular maintenance.
“The Strakka team and our technical partners have delivered a superbly prepared car that has run faultlessly over the entire distance,” says Nick Leventis. “We spent six months preparing and the attention to detail, combined with the technologies and support from our partners, has helped us to achieve a stellar result. It is a fitting send off for the Gibson, in what is likely to be the last time to see open-topped prototype cars here at La Sarthe." In addition to the on track performance, Strakka Racing also excelled off-track, spending the shortest amount of time amongst the 23 LMP2 entries to undertake pit stops.
With adverse weather conditions dictating a start behind the safety car, Strakka’s first driver Jonny Kane was able to haul the team’s Gibson 015S from 17th on the grid to the fringes of the top ten. Often the quickest car in the LMP2 category, Kane only needed minor tweaks to the brake balance and traction control settings to perfect the car for an increasingly drying track. After having completed a quadruple stint, Kane handed the car to Danny Watts before team founder Nick Leventis took over running into the dark. Revelling in the dry conditions and well-balanced car, Leventis extended his stint from a double to triple. With the dimmer switch failing, the brighter lights on the steering wheel were a distraction, leading the team to swap it for an alternative wheel. From then on, the car continued to run smoothly and consistently, only needing a top-up of oil at 04:15hrs.
As dawn rose and with fatigue setting in, a number of rivals fell by the wayside. A change in the planned strategy saw Kane head back out and was chasing the SMP car for third place and a potential podium. With just over six hours to run, Strakka’s bf1systems’ tyre pressure monitoring system detected a slow front puncture. The team made a precautionary pitstop, revising its strategy once more. The call to change the suspect tyre was proven to be correct as, on inspection, the tyre was deflating. With the tyres changed, Kane was swiftly back in the hunt and clawed his way past the SMP car of Minassian. The move saw Kane seize back a podium position as he handed the car to Leventis.
Leventis settled down to a triple stint to achieve the new-for-2016 regulations that mandate Silver graded drivers drive for a minimum of six hours. A smooth run with only tyre changes and a minor repair to a loose engine cover ensured Leventis was able to pass the car safely to Watts to bring home to the flag with just regular tyre and fuel stops.
"It’s been both an incredible and fantastic weekend and it’s amazing to be back on the podium, especially given the breadth and depth of competition in LMP2,” says team principal Dan Walmsley. “Having not being able to take part in 2014 and then retiring in 2015, it’s even sweeter to finish so highly. We’ve shown Strakka Racing can compete against both the best sports cars and drivers at the most inspiring and unpredictable motorsport event. It was particularly special that we could share our success with guests from Dell, who has been instrumental in our preparations and developments for Le Mans. This positive result will be a catalyst for further success as Strakka develops into the racing business it wants to be.”
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About Strakka Racing
From early domestic campaigns with BMWs and Aston Martins, Strakka Racing has evolved to become one of the most respected and successful privateer teams in the World Endurance Championship. In 2010 the Silverstone-based team achieved a class win, five circuit records and fifth overall in the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours. In 2013, it secured a second Le Mans win in the LMP1 Privateers’ class. Ever developing, in 2013 Strakka Racing entered the Formula Renault 3.5 World Series single-seater championship, regarded as one of the best training grounds for F1. In 2016 Strakka Racing is competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship in a Gibson 015S together with a two car campaign in Formula V8 3.5 and an R.S.01 in the Renault Sport category.