Strakka Honda strengthens privateers’ fight in São Paulo

Strakka Racing has strengthened its fight in the FIA World Endurance Championship Privateers’ category after finishing 2nd Privateer and 5th overall in São Paulo. It was another sensational down to the wire race finish as Jonny Kane passed rival #13 Rebellion just two minutes before taking the chequered flag. The result sees Strakka move into a clear 2nd place in the championship standings, six points ahead of JRM, with three races of the season left to run.

#21 Strakka Racing HPD ARX 03a Honda: Nick Leventis, Danny Watts, Jonny Kane
#21 Strakka Racing HPD ARX 03a Honda: Nick Leventis, Danny Watts, Jonny Kane

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Jonny made a clean getaway from the third row of the grid in the team’s Honda Performance Development ARX-03a. Despite dropping to 6th on the first lap, 5th was a position the team managed to regain due to a carefully timed first pit stop. Unusually though a freak problem with Jonny’s first set of tyres meant they couldn’t be double stinted, costing the team over half a minute. Jonny fought hard to maintain 5th position and 2nd placed Privateer before handing over to Danny Watts who, it was decided, would remain in the car for a triple stint to try and improve track position.

Danny drove every lap like a qualifying lap and was doing a great job in the HPD ARX-03a of hunting down Privateer leader #12 Rebellion, only to get caught in the pit lane just as the safety car was deployed. Nonetheless his monumental efforts and some lightning quick pit work saw the team maintain 2nd Privateer position when Nick Leventis took over.

Just twenty minutes into his stint, an over-ambitious overtaking manoeuvre by Harold Primat in the #13 Rebellion saw Nick spin off into the gravel. Luckily he was able to rejoin and continued to drive one of the best race stints of his career to set Jonny up for his final stint and a showdown fight to the finish for 2nd place.

With just 50 minutes of the race left to run and a gap of 50 seconds, it was a tall order but Jonny pushed as hard as he could lapping two to three seconds a lap quicker than the #13 Rebellion. He finally caught and overtook it two minutes before the end of the race to cross the line in a fantastic 2nd position in the Privateers’ Cup and 5th overall. A fantastic team effort by all and a result that also sees Strakka come 3rd in the Michelin Green X Challenge.

Nick Leventis: “Today’s been a really great team effort. To come here off the back of Silverstone and also score second in the Privateers’ Cup is fantastic, especially seeing as the race really didn’t go our way today. We had an issue with not being able to double stint Jonny’s tyres, which forced us to change our strategy. And then unfortunately Danny got held up in the pit lane due to the safety car. It’s just one of those unfortunate things and as a result we dropped back. On top of that I had a coming together with Harold Primat, which personally I think was a bit short sighted on his part. However, we got on with it and Jonny drove brilliantly in the last stint to make up valuable ground. It’s another good points score for us and we’re in good shape going into the next race in Bahrain. To know that we can compete against Rebellion for the Privateers’ Cup is brilliant, the whole team’s done a fantastic job.”

Jonny Kane: “I really enjoyed the race and the car’s been really good all weekend. We had a bit of a problem at the start of the race with my first set of tyres. We’re not sure why, but after that the tyres were brilliant and Danny did a fantastic triple stint in the middle of the race to get us back in a good track position. Nick also put in some stunning laps to get me in a position that I could hunt down Harold Primat at the end with fifty minutes to go. It was really tight, after thirty minutes we still had a thirty second gap, but I managed to get him with a couple of laps to go. I overtook him going into the first corner, which I knew was my one and only chance as it’s a hard track to overtake at. Overall I’m really happy, the car’s been great all week and it’s another great job by the boys.”

Danny Watts: “We were forced to change our strategy a little bit today, but I think that it worked really well. It was a really tough race and every lap I did was like a qualifying lap. I was pushing the whole time. It was a great challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed it and the car performed brilliantly. It’s a great result, having come so close to coming first privateer at Silverstone and narrowly missing, it’s nice to continue our good performance in Brazil. It was such a close fight at the end. Jonny and Nick were absolutely tremendous today as always and it was a great team effort. We put so much into this weekend and it’s good to come out of it with a really good strong result.”

Dan Walmsley: “It’s just a fantastic result. We were a bit unlucky to start. First of all a we had a strange situation with our first set of tyres, which we thankfully realised was just a one-off problem, and then we got caught in the pits when the safety car was deployed so we lost a lap with that as well. Despite everything, we finished second after an amazing fight back similar to what we did at Silverstone, but this time passing the Rebellion before the chequered flag. That was very satisfying for everyone in the team. Nick drove a fantastic stint and really justified today his place in P1, and in light of the work that we’ve been doing with him at Strakka Performance, that for us is a real feather in our cap. We’re going home very happy safe in the knowledge that we can go to Bahrain and the remaining races and fight everyone on level ground. We’ve got three drivers that can take the fight to anyone.”

Source: Strakka Racing

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About this article
Series WEC
Drivers Harold Primat , Jonny Kane , Nick Leventis , Danny Watts
Teams Strakka Racing , JRM Racing
Article type Race report
Tags fia, honda, kane, leventis, sao paulo, strakka, walmsley, watts, wec