Portimao: Strakka Racing race report

The Peaks and Troughs of Motorsport The team members at Strakka Racing have experienced the full spectrum of emotions inside a month, having won the LMP2 class at Le Mans just four weeks before retiring from Round 3 of the 2010 Le Mans Series ...

The Peaks and Troughs of Motorsport

The team members at Strakka Racing have experienced the full spectrum of emotions inside a month, having won the LMP2 class at Le Mans just four weeks before retiring from Round 3 of the 2010 Le Mans Series in Portugal. Up until the point a rare transmission failure intervened, the race had clearly been heading Strakka's way, which only made the disappointment doubly telling.

In the hands of Danny Watts, Nick Leventis and Jonny Kane, the Strakka Racing HPD ARX-01c had been consistently quickest in practice for the Algarve 1000 Kilometres; only bettered in one of the three sessions after the team had elected to concentrate on race preparation. A remarkably controlled qualifying performance had also secured a third successive pole, and maintained Danny Watts' unbeaten record this season.

"I was really delighted with securing pole," said Piers Phillips, Team Manager at Strakka. "It's a remarkably tough circuit, and the temperature and conditions this weekend have been very demanding too. The opposition has really raised the game since the first two rounds, but full credit to Danny for claiming his fourth pole of the year. We arrived here with a fairly aggressive set-up that wasn't perfect for outright pace but we felt would benefit us in the race, which is what really matters. That meant it wasn't the perfect car for qualifying, but Danny dug deep into the talent and brought out a stunning performance. That was a fantastic lap, as always."

In a change of tactics, Danny Watts also took the race start late on Saturday afternoon. The conditions had not relented, and the intense heat, blustery wind and challenging nature of the circuit all conspired to challenge the drivers. Danny made the most of the diminished LMP1 grid, where two cars started from the back of the field, and imposed his command on the LMP2 class from the moment the lights changed. He steadily extended the lead to around 20 seconds before his first pitstop, exactly on the hour. The second half of his double-stint saw that advantage grow significantly when the second-placed Quifel ASM Ginetta-Zytek encountered problems.

By the time Nick Leventis took over, the Strakka HPD had a lap in hand and the race was into its third hour. The margin continued to grow, and even after the third stop for tyres, the lead still stood at more than 70 seconds. Then, fifteen minutes into his second stint, Nick lost all drive rising out of Turn 5. The car coasted to a halt with a transmission control system failure, and despite his best efforts, couldn't be coaxed back to the pits.

"Everything had looked perfect for us," admitted a dejected Piers Phillips. "We came here knowing we wouldn't be super-quick, but we had a great race car, thanks largely to the great job Jonny did in working towards an optimised set-up during practice. His input and guidance was crucial. The competition was much closer on pole, compared to the kind of advantage we've had in the past, and we knew we'd struggle on tyres, but it was all falling into place. We had the pace, Danny had driven a blinding first stint, and Nick was running well. He was consistently faster than any of the other comparable drivers. We knew we had Jonny to come for the end of the race, so we should have been home and dry, but you can't anticipate everything that might go wrong. This has been a very rare and unaccountable mechanical failure."

"Even so, there are many positives to be drawn from the performance here this weekend," he added. "These are the ups and downs of motor racing, and I suppose it's appropriate that it should happen here on such a roller-coaster of a track. Now we must look ahead, and prepare for Hungary. We have a raft of new components in the pipeline, including some aero developments, and we can still do this. RML has a 20 point lead, but problems for them, and two good results for us, could turn that around.

-source: strakka racing

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