Spa: Strakka Racing qualifying report

From First to Last for Strakka Racing In a hugely disappointing turn-around, Strakka Racing will start Round 2 of the 2009 Le Mans Series from the very back of the grid, just a month after the team achieved a stunning pole on their series debut...

From First to Last for Strakka Racing

In a hugely disappointing turn-around, Strakka Racing will start Round 2 of the 2009 Le Mans Series from the very back of the grid, just a month after the team achieved a stunning pole on their series debut in Barcelona. Despite such a radical reversal of fortunes, the team remains upbeat about their prospects in what is always a demanding six-hour race around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Heading into qualifying the team had just been getting on top of a minor handling issue that had seen the #23 Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S sixth in LMP1 for first practice, and then tenth on Saturday morning. Confident of making a significant improvement, just when it really mattered, Danny Watts was heading down towards the La Source hairpin, about to begin his first flying lap, when disaster struck. "I braked at exactly the same position that I always brake, and I applied the same amount of pressure on the pedal that I always apply, but this time the car snapped immediately into a spin."

Peter Hardman at La Source - Photo: David Lord, Dailysportscar What Danny wasn't aware of at the time is that the #007 Aston Martin had just spun off at exactly the same place, and reports suggest that there was oil on the track "The engine stalled, and then wouldn't restart. When I managed to get it going again, it was immediately apparent that the tyres were badly flat-spotted," added Danny. With the Aston still stranded and in a dangerous position, the session was red flagged.

Back in the garage the Michelin technicians were able to examine the tyres on Strakka's Ginetta Zytek, and advised against attempting to drive the car again. With the regulations making it impossible to fit fresh tyres, the team had no option but to abandon qualifying and accept their fate. "It's very unfortunate, but these things happen," shrugged a philosophical Nick Leventis. "We're strong enough as a team to make the best of this. It's a six-hour race, and all it takes is a bit of luck and a safety car or two, and we will be back up there again."

Nick Leventis through Les Combes - Photo: Marcus Potts / CMC "Danny is a really good driver, there's no doubt about that, but there may have been a brake problem, or perhaps he spun on oil, but he did well not to clip the wall," said Peter Hardman, co-driver and Team Principal at Strakka Racing. "It's just unfortunate that the condition of the tyres prevented us from continuing."

Having failed to set a time, Strakka Racing's Ginetta-Zytek will share the back of the grid for tomorrow's race with the 007 Aston Martin. "It should make for a very interesting start," conceded Nick Leventis. "We're still very much in the race. As others have shown, you can be two laps down in a race of this length and still end up on the podium, so don't write us off yet. Of course it's disappointing to go from first to last in a month, but the challenge now is to go from last to first in six hours."

The race is scheduled to commence at 12:50 pm (CET) on Sunday 10th May.

-credit: sr

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