Strakka on LMP2 Pole at Le Mans In a thrilling first half-hour to the final qualifying session for this year's 78th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Strakka Racing took LMP2 pole with an emphatic run of 3:33.079 from Danny Watts. The team's...
Strakka on LMP2 Pole at Le Mans
In a thrilling first half-hour to the final qualifying session for this year's 78th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Strakka Racing took LMP2 pole with an emphatic run of 3:33.079 from Danny Watts. The team's Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-01c had been in a close-fought duel with Highcroft Racing's similar car throughout practice and qualifying, but Aylesbury-born Watts found nearly a second and a half to put pole beyond question.
"I can't quantify just how impressive Danny's achievement has been," said a visibly delighted Piers Phillips, Team Manager at Strakka. "That lap was absolutely fantastic. We'd seen Highcroft go a second or more quicker than we'd ever gone before, but to Danny's credit, he found time we didn't know was there. It was his first time on qualifiers in this car, and I'm not sure he knew what to expect, but he certainly found his feet very quickly. Those tyres were phenomenal and I can't overstate how important Michelin's contribution has been to our programme this season."
Strakka had emerged quickest on Wednesday night as well, during the first qualifying session, when Jonny Kane posted a best of 3:36.168. "Under the prevailing conditions, and with a track that was still improving, Jonny's time was equally astounding," insisted Phillips. "It was a banker lap, in case it rained later, and we were very pleased for Jonny."
That time from Kane held provisional pole until the final minutes of Thursday's first session. With rain forecast, it had started to look as if Strakka's "banker" might pay dividends, but the track conditions were coming to a head. Highcroft's David Brabham struck back, and his improved time snatched back the top slot by half a second.
Right at the start of the final session, Danny Watts headed out on track to better the time set by last year's Le Mans winning driver not once, but twice, and effectively placed pole beyond reach. "This is a fantastic achievement for us," said co-driver Nick Leventis. "Both Jonny and Danny drove superbly to be quickest on each evening, and the whole team has performed a hundred and ten percent. It's the perfect start to our Le Mans campaign."
"I knew there was a lot of time still to come, and I reckoned last night that a thirty-four might be possible," said Jonny Kane. "When David Brabham first set that tonight, I knew that something even quicker was going to be achievable. Danny's first lap was good, but he learned from the tyres, and really made it count with his second."
"The car was unbelievable!" said an ecstatic Danny Watts. "It just did everything you asked of it. It was balanced, consistent, had excellent traction, perfect change of direction, power - everything - and that's just a credit to everyone concerned; HPD, Wirth Research, Michelin and, of course, the guys who prepared it today and nailed the set-up. It's our race set-up too, so we're in a great position as we head into the 24 Hours."
"Pole is a fantastic result for the team, especially here at Le Mans" concluded Piers. "This is the greatest motor race in the world, with nearly a quarter of a million spectators and millions more on TV. Qualifying is only half a percent of the whole picture at Le Mans, of course, and we mustn't allow this to go to our heads, but to achieve this is a significant reflection of where we stand now as a team. It feels enormously rewarding to have achieved pole on such a vast stage and against some of the best teams and drivers in the sport."
-source: strakka racing