In an extraordinary flat-out finish to the 6 Hours of Silverstone, Strakka Racing’s Danny Watts drove 28 qualifying-style laps on his final stint to come to within half a second of winning the FIA World Endurance Championship Privateers’ category on the team’s home event. The close 2nd place finish at Silverstone moves Strakka Racing into 2nd place in the standings.
A magnificent performance too by Jonny Kane, who started the race, and Nick Leventis, who carved his way through heavy traffic with a brilliant mid-race double-stint, ensured the team was in the hunt for the LMP1 Privateers’ award when Danny took over with two and a half hours remaining.
With the team’s Honda Performance Development ARX-03a running fast and reliably, Danny came from over a minute behind the leading Privateer car to help Strakka Racing finish 2nd Privateer, 5th overall and 3rd in the Michelin Green X Challenge.
Jonny made a safe start from the outside of Row 2, dropping one place to 5th at the first corner and holding that position in time to hand over to Nick. The first of two Safety Car periods (both to recover stranded cars) didn’t upset Nick’s rhythm as he quickly lapped slower cars in a typically hectic mid-endurance race mix of prototype and GT cars all racing it their own class positions.
A clever mid-race change of strategy, calculated to reduce the number of fuel stops required, saw Danny climb into the Strakka Racing HPD ARX-03a with two and a half hours of the race remaining – with the aim of trying to close the half a lap advantage the Privateer category leading #13 Rebellion had established.
The gap was 37 seconds at the final tire stop, and Danny pushed as hard as he could for 28 nail-biting laps to be just 0.4 seconds behind when the six hours were up – officially crossing the finish line 0.627 seconds behind in 2nd.
Nick Leventis: “I’m immensely proud of the entire team and the fantastic result we’ve achieved in front of our home fans. To finish second in the Privateers’ category by only half a second after such a charge is a formidable effort by everyone. Jonny and especially Danny drove remarkably well, and whilst we almost won, full credit must go to Rebellion for triple-stinting its tires towards the end and holding on for victory.
Had the race been just one lap longer, the result may have been different! Silverstone has marked another big step forward for Strakka, as we have shown we can now compete for outright victories in the Privateers’ Cup, and to finish fifth overall is a tremendous achievement against such class opposition.
We can’t wait for the second half of the season to begin, as this performance has given us a real boost. We’ll go forward knowing that we can race at circuits the team has never raced at before and compete for the LMP1 Privateers’ win.”
Jonny Kane: “Our qualifying times were very close to the Rebellion cars so we knew it would probably be a case of nip ‘n’ tuck the whole day today and it really was. My first double stint went well. I unfortunately lost a place at the first corner to the #12 Rebellion of Neel Jani but managed to stay with him throughout and we came in the pits almost together, by which time I’d managed to pull out a bit of lead on the second Rebellion car.
I’d developed quite a lot of cramp in my hip so I received treatment on it when Nick took over, so I didn’t see much of his run but I know that he set some great lap times. Then we were into a Safety Car period with four stints remaining until the finish. I was ready to get back in the car but we didn’t want to lose any time on an additional driver change so Danny really had to stay in until the end of the race.
He did a fantastic job and we crossed the line half a second apart after six hours of really hard racing. It’s been a brilliant effort by all of the team and one of those really enjoyable races where it’s close the whole way through. One tiny thing could have swung the result in either direction and it was a great battle.”
Danny Watts: “It was tough, but a lot of fun. It’s good when you’ve got a carrot like that to chase down and every lap was like a qualifying lap. My final stint was the longest I’ve ever driven any car for at that pace in my life. I felt massively dehydrated when I got out of the car, but the chase kept me going.
I could see we were catching the Rebellion and that, together with the guys on the pit wall, spurred me on, and as we crossed the finish line it was just a stone’s throw away. That’s frustrating, because one more lap and we’d have had him. Our car’s been great, we’ve scored good WEC points and the entire team never put a foot wrong all weekend.
Jonny and Nick did a great job before me to put the car right up in a position to challenge for the Privateer win, and we know we can challenge for that award every time we race now.”
Dan Walmsley, Team Manager: “We were thirty-seven seconds behind when we began our final stint and we knew Danny had to give everything – and he put in twenty-eight qualifying laps to close to within half a second of the Privateer LMP1 victory by the chequered flag.
We had no fuel left in the car and Danny was still pushing; we were four-tenths behind starting the final sector of the final lap, yet he still kept pushing! We’re very proud of ourselves. It’s been a busy summer preparing for our home round of the WEC, planning for the second half of the season and launching our exciting Strakka Performance project, so it is fantastic to achieve such a great result at Silverstone.”
Round 5 of the FIA World Endurance Championship is the 6 Hours of São Paulo on 15 September.
Source: Strakka Racing