Catalunya: Strakka Racing qualifying report

Pole for Strakka Racing on LMP1 Debut It took Danny Watts just one flying lap to set the new Strakka Racing Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S on pole for tomorrow's opening round of the 2009 Le Mans Series, locking out both the new Lola Aston Martins, a pair...

Pole for Strakka Racing on LMP1 Debut

It took Danny Watts just one flying lap to set the new Strakka Racing Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S on pole for tomorrow's opening round of the 2009 Le Mans Series, locking out both the new Lola Aston Martins, a pair of Audi R10s and the latest chassis from Pescarolo Sport. Strakka's performance also represented the first time that a petrol-engined car has out-qualified the diesels in over two years of Le Mans Series competition.

"Danny had said he wanted to do it in two laps, and he got the job done in one. It was an absolutely stunning lap," said Peter Hardman, co-driver and Team Principal at Strakka Racing. ""I've always known we had a really quick car but now we've managed to prove it in the session that matters. Obviously, I'm very happy about it, and it's a tribute to the whole team how quickly we've stepped up to this level."

"It wasn't a bad lap, to be fair," conceded a grinning Danny Watts. "I don't think I could have improved too much on it, although I did brake too late into the hairpin, locked up and mullered the front left. That gave me a small flat spot, so maybe there was potential for something quicker."

The lap in question came five minutes into the twenty-minute session. The team had kept the GZ09S parked up in the garage while the queue cleared from the pitlane, and then released Watts into the first gap in traffic. He exploited the space to the full, throwing down a time of 1:32.492 that was almost three seconds faster than he'd managed in practice. "It was a clear lap no problems," he said. "I was into a second which might have been quicker when I was baulked. I abandoned the run after that, and headed back to the pitlane to save the tyres."

"Thanks to everyone who's helped to make this happen, and particular credit to Michelin, who gave us the perfect tyre," said Nick Leventis. "This has been a fantastic team effort and in such a short time too. Everyone's done a great job of pulling together, and this is exactly the reward we needed. It's hard to credit that just four years ago we were running an endurance touring car, and here we are in our first season in LMP1, and we're on pole. It's almost too good to be true."

"I'm absolutely delighted," stated John Manchester of Zytek Engineering "This is the first race with the GZ09S, and to sit on pole is something I don't think any of thought would happen. The car is still in the very early stages of development, so we're confident there's lots more to come this season. We're also delighted for Strakka Racing. It's a big step up from GT1 to LMP1, and to get pole in their first ever race at this level is a remarkable achievement. I hope this is the start of a strong and successful relationship."

"Claiming pole doesn't change our strategy for tomorrow," insisted Peter Hardman. "Our objective now is still to run our own race, keep out of trouble and finish." His long-term co-driver Nick Leventis revealed that the team had never deliberately aimed so high. "Qualifying was always important, of course, but we never allowed ourselves to get carried away with it. It was two laps or nothing, so I'm thrilled and delighted that Danny managed such a fantastic time at the first attempt."

The 1000 Kilometres of Catalunya is scheduled to start at 11:30 am (CET) tomorrow, Sunday 4th April.

-credit: sr

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Peter Hardman , Nick Leventis , Danny Watts
Teams Strakka Racing