Strakka Racing has completely rebuilt its Honda Performance Development ARX-03c overnight after a heavy crash in qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hour race – ensuring the only all-British driver line-up of Nick Leventis (London), Danny Watts (Buckingham) and Jonny Kane (Thame) can start the 90th anniversary race tomorrow at 15.00 (CET).
Jonny was uninjured, but the impact destroyed Strakka Racing’s only spare front bodywork panel and engine cover, and leaves the Silverstone-based team with just one spare rear assembly.
However, the team won LMP2 and finished 5th overall in 2010 without sustaining any bodywork damage – and with a competitive car set-up for the race, Strakka Racing is hopeful that it has now exhausted all of its bad luck before this year’s race starts.
It’s been a tough build-up to this year’s 24 Hours, with electrical issues, a lack of dry running and each practice and qualifying session shortened by Red Flags. Even Strakka’s tyre buggy was stolen!
Having qualified 8th, Strakka Racing is one of several teams to receive a grid penalty for qualifying outside the 110% rule – in Strakka’s case, because of its reduced pace owing to its electrical issues. Danny will therefore take the rolling start from the outside of row 18 – 36th on the grid.
But a fantastic team spirit remains, and such troubles are merely part of the challenge of contesting what, to many, is the world’s greatest motor race.
Nick Leventis: “All three drivers have qualified and we believe we have a pretty good car for the race. We’ve been a bit unfortunate with electrical problems and a big impact with a crash barrier, so we haven’t had a chance to show our true pace yet. Qualifying at night for me was tough, because we had major electrical internal current issues.
Although I had main headlights, that was about it. I didn’t have any traction-control combined with clutch issues and no dashboard display at all, so it was quite a new and interesting experience for me! But qualifying at Le Mans is always a bit of a bonus – the main objective isn’t to start as high up the grid as we can on Saturday, it’s about being in a strong position at the end of the race on Sunday afternoon. While the build-up has been frustrating, we’re in pretty good shape and we’re confident we can have a good race.”
Danny Watts: “It’s been a hard couple of days for us, what with the changeable weather and electronic problems with the car. We wanted to get a lot of track mileage in to learn a bit more about the car at this track and really dial it in for the race. But because of the poor weather we couldn’t do too much running and then we had a fairly big accident that has destroyed a lot of our spares.
We weren’t even going for a fast qualifying time when the accident happened, it was all about getting the car comfortable for the race. The build-up hasn’t gone well, but that makes us all the more determined to have a strong race.”
Jonny Kane: “As soon as I braked for the second chicane on Mulsanne, both right hand wheels locked up on a damp patch and the car turned left so quickly that I couldn’t catch it. It was a pretty hard impact with the barriers and there was a lot of damage. I’m just massively disappointed for the team.
We’ve had two hard days at Le Mans, the boys had already been working extremely hard and this was the last thing we needed. With the weather against us in every test and practice session we’ve done this year, it’s certainly not the run up to my tenth Le Mans that I was hoping for. But hopefully all our bad luck is out of the way now and we can have a trouble-free run for the rest of the weekend.”
Dan Walmsley, Strakka Racing Team Manager: “It’s been a challenging build up to this year’s race – everything from electrical problems, a lack of dry running, a major crash and even our pit buggy been stolen! The final qualifying session was all about Jonny doing his mandatory few laps to get the car into the race, which he duly did.
We’d identified a small area of the car that we thought we could improve for the race and we had just gone out to evaluate the change on that, towards the end of Qualifying 3, when Jonny lost control of the car at the second chicane. There was a lot of damage, and the guys worked through the night to repair it.
Our supply of spare parts has been somewhat depleted, but we’ve still got the team Glitter Ball in the pit garage and while that’s still turning, we’re still racing!”