Second Row for Strakka at the 'Ring Danny Watts, Strakka Racing, Nurburgring Qualifying. Photo: John Brooks Strakka Racing's Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S will start this weekend's Nurburgring 1000 Kilometres from the second row after Danny Watts ...
Second Row for Strakka at the 'Ring
Danny Watts, Strakka Racing, Nurburgring Qualifying. Photo: John Brooks Strakka Racing's Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S will start this weekend's Nurburgring 1000 Kilometres from the second row after Danny Watts was unfortunate to encounter yellow flags at the close of a tightly fought qualifying session. Four-tenths up on his previous best for the first sector, he eased off in respect of the flags and had to be content with a best of 1:42.966 -- a second shy of pole but still good for fourth.
In common with more than half the competitors in LMP1, Strakka Racing's Team Manager Piers Phillips elected to brave out the first half of the twenty-minute qualifying session, hoping to make the best of the track conditions. "It was entertaining, out there on the pit wall, playing cat and mouse," he said. "Maybe we were a bit brave, leaving our run until the last few minutes, but it could so easily have worked to our advantage. Unfortunately, an accident at Turn 5 and the associated yellows conspired against us, but it was a close thing."
Danny Watts, Strakka Racing, Nurburgring Saturday Free Practice. Photo: Marcus Potts / CMC The accident, involving one of the top-three in LMP2, occurred near the start of the middle sector, and was too serious to be cleared away before the end of the session. "Danny was nearly half-a-second up on his previous best until he encountered the incident and eased back," explained Nick Leventis, Danny's co-driver. "The middle sector has been Danny's best throughout practice, so he could have hoped to make up even more time through there, so the front row was easily within our reach. However, there's no point in feeling discouraged by what's still been a great performance."
The team's Ginetta-Zytek had been consistently amongst the quickest in Free Practice, finishing second in both the dry sessions, and had been fastest during the wettest period on Friday. "We're actually quite buoyed up by the fact that we think we've got a more consistent car all-round," admitted Piers. "Our performance window appears to be wider than many of the others, and over the course of six hours, that should even things out, and maybe even swing the balance in our favour. We know we've got the pace, and if we can combine that with consistency and minimum tyre wear, I think we'll be in an excellent position for the race itself. The boys have worked their socks off this season and they deserve a good result."
Nick Leventis, Strakka Racing, Nurburgring Friday Free Practice. Photo: Marcus Potts / CMC Neither driver has raced the full Nurburgring circuit before. "I know the [adjacent and much longer] Nordschleife really well -- I've been round hundreds of times -- but I've never driven on the Grand Prix circuit before. It's a fantastic track, and I'm really looking forward to racing on it," said Nick. While Danny is not so familiar with the historic circuit, he has raced on a shortened version of the Grand Prix track, finishing just behind Lewis Hamilton during a round of the F3 Euroseries in 2005.
Danny Watts will line up behind a trio of Aston Martin-powered coupes for tomorrow's 12:30pm start. "We're confident that our race pace is right on the ballpark," claims Nick, "and being on the second row suits us fine. Although we're down on torque against the larger-capacity engines, and lose in straight-line speed, we're able to gain on them on the entry and through the corners. It's a situation that hasn't compromised us so far this season, and works well here at the Nurburgring. Reliability is our next issue, but we're well-poised now for the race."