Portimao: Strakka Racing preview

Revitalised Strakka Racing Ready for the Algarve Nick Leventis | Strakka Racing | Circuit do Algarve, testing, February 2009 With the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours consigned to the history books, many teams and drivers have had seven weeks to prepare...

Revitalised Strakka Racing Ready for the Algarve

Nick Leventis | Strakka Racing | Circuit do Algarve, testing, February 2009 With the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours consigned to the history books, many teams and drivers have had seven weeks to prepare for the next race of the 2009 season: Round 3 of the Le Mans Series at the new Autodromo do Algarve in southern Portugal.

Revitalised and refreshed, Strakka Racing returns to the site of the team's first serious track test of the year. At a time when the Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S was still something of a novelty, the squad spent two days at the Algarve circuit in late February, and came away hugely impressed by the poise, performance and ultimate driveability of the new car. Since then Strakka has demonstrated the competitive potential of the Ginetta-Zytek, not only by claiming outright pole at Round 1 in Barcelona, but by achieving a creditable finish at Le Mans in June.

The team will contest the remaining races in the 2009 season with a slimmed-down two-driver line-up comprising long-term Strakka regular Nick Leventis and former Formula Renault champion and A1GP winner Danny Watts. Both are enthusiastic about the team's prospects. "There's a real sense of energy in the squad, and we're eager to get on with the rest of the season," admits Nick Leventis. "After a great opening race, we were let down at Spa and Le Mans by minor technical and reliability issues, but we've worked hard to address those during the break. We've had tremendous input from Zytek and I believe those problems have now been overcome. That gives us a genuine sense of optimism for the rest of the season, and that radiates throughout the team."

Danny Watts | Strakka Racing | Le Mans 24 Hours 2009 The squad, under the direction of Chief Engineer and Team Manager Piers Phillips, completed a successful shakedown test at Snetterton on July 23rd. "It's been several weeks since Le Mans, and we were in danger of getting a bit rusty!" suggested Danny Watts. "Nick and I had a good run at Snetterton, blew away the cobwebs and got back into the swing of things. It was an excellent day, and allowed us to try a number of set-up options ahead of our arrival in Portimao."

In addition to the anticipation of racing on a circuit that they already know well, and like enormously, the two drivers also have the entertaining prospect of taking part in the Le Mans Series' first-ever 'night race'. The 1000 Kilometres of the Algarve will be staged on the evening of Saturday August 1st, starting at 19:15, and running for 215 laps until around one o'clock on the Sunday morning. "We know the Algarve circuit and understand its challenges and I'm really looking forward to getting back there," said Nick. "The circuit is superb, and racing there at night should generate a great atmosphere. It should be a memorable event."

"The circuit is absolutely fantastic," said Danny. "It's a very challenging mix of high-speed straights and very technical medium- and slow-speed corners, including some blind apexes and crests. That means achieving an effective compromise between aero and mechanical grip, but in many respects, the track's similar to Barcelona, and we secured pole there at the start of the year. On that scale alone, I believe we should be very competitive in the Algarve."

Nick Leventis | Strakka Racing | Le Mans 24 Hours 2009 "Our goal has got to be to go for a podium," added Danny. "Our strategy will be different now that we've got one driver less. Nick and I will get more track time during the practice sessions, and between us we'll be better prepared and in excellent shape."

"We know we have the pace and provided we've addressed those reliability issues, I think we now have to be serious contenders for a podium," agreed Nick. "It is a six hour race, after all, and anything can happen!"

Ahead of the trip to Portugal, Nick Leventis was in action at Silverstone on Sunday 26th, where he shared a Ferrari Dino 246S Prototipo with Bobby Verdon-Roe in the BRDC one-hour race for Historic Sports Cars. Part of the HSCC Silverstone Classic meeting, Nick started the race and ran in fifth for most of the first nineteen minutes before handing over to Verdon-Roe. "Bobby fought back up to third, and then took second place, and had closed to within ten seconds of the leader when the spokes of the rear right wheel collapsed at the start of Hanger Straight," explained Nick. Verdon-Roe did well to coax the car to safety without serious damage, but the Dino's race was over. "First place was ours for the taking," said Nick, "but we must just be thankful that there wasn't more damage to the car, and that everyone is safe."

Nick will now join the rest of the Strakka Racing team for the journey south to the Algarve, where the track action begins with first Free Practice on Thursday July 30th at 16:45.

-credit: strakka

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Nick Leventis , Danny Watts
Teams Strakka Racing