Just three thousands of a second separated the top three LMP1 Privateer teams in qualifying for tomorrow’s 6 Hours of Shanghai, the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, with Strakka Racing finishing 3rd (and 6th overall) after a great performance around the Shanghai International Circuit.
Danny Watts completed three flying laps in the team’s Honda Performance Development ARX-03a – setting a 1:51.037 best, which was over two seconds faster than the team’s previous best time set in free practice.
All free practice sessions were dedicated to fine-tuning the car to its optimum potential around the 3.387 mile (5.451km) Chinese Grand Prix circuit, in an effort to find a good high-speed performance for the long straights, stability in the long fast corners and the best aerodynamic downforce in the tight and twisty sections.
Free practice also allowed Nick Leventis and Jonny Kane to drive the circuit for the first time, as only Danny has previous raced at Shanghai (in an Aston Martin Asian Series Formula 1 support race in 2008).
Twenty-eight cars will start the final round of the WEC tomorrow; eight LMP1 and 10 each in the LMP2 and GT categories.
Danny: “Qualifying was so close, the gaps are more like the ones you see at a Formula Renault race around the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, not around a big Grand Prix circuit like here in Shanghai – and it shows how close the LMP1 Privateers’ category is.
I didn’t put all my sectors together, so there was more in the bag – but the car’s good and we’re in good shape for the race. We want to finish the season on a major high and try to win the Privateers’ award again.
We have the pace to do it and it’s all to play for. I think a lot of tomorrow will not be the same as what you’ve seen in the free practice sessions and qualifying, as it will be strategy from the pit wall that will have a big influence on the result.”
Nick: “Shanghai is quite a challenging track and I’m really enjoying it. The race is going to be demanding, especially on the tyres and the front left tyre in particular.
I’m confident we’ll have good race pace, because we learnt a lot about car set-up in Fuji and this track is not too dissimilar.
You want to try and maximise the speed on the long straights whilst having a good aero balance and high level of downforce around the more technical sectors, and without giving anything away I think we’ll be in good shape tomorrow.
Traffic will be an issue as always, but at least you have long straights here to overtake and it’s going to be fun.”
Jonny: “I’m really enjoying Shanghai – the whether has been a bit mixed since we’ve been here, but the track is good.
It’s quite difficult technically because there are a lot of very long corners, really high-speed straights and slow corners as well, so it’s a hard track to get the perfect set-up for.
It was good to do a day on a simulator before we came here, because within my first five laps I was really into the circuit already – and considering it is such a tricky layout I was quite pleased with that.
It’s certainly an enjoyable track to drive, the car feels pretty good and we’re in the mix.”
Source: Strakka Racing