Strakka Racing has secured 2nd place in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship LMP1 Privateers’ Cup, with the final round of the year (Shanghai, 28 October) yet to come, after team drivers Nick Leventis, Jonny Kane and Danny Watts finished the 6 Hours of Fuji 3rd Privateer and 6th overall.
The team’s result at the Fuji International Speedway means that it’s currently 28 points ahead of its nearest rival, JRM, with just 25 points available.
Jonny made a fantastic start in the team’s Michelin-shod HPD ARX-03a at Fuji, only to be backed up by the Audi starting in front of him which allowed both the #22 JRM and #13 Rebellion cars to overtake, dropping him to 7th by the end of the first lap.
A superbly timed fuel only first pit stop saw him jump past both (who took on fuel and tyres) to regain 5th position.
Jonny handed over to Danny, who drove every lap like a qualifying lap to reduce the gap between the #21 Strakka and #22 JRM car from 10 to less than three seconds in the closing stages of his 65 lap double stint.
However, the HPD ARX-03a did not quite have the outright pace required to overtake around the 2.83 mile (4.563km) Fuji circuit.
With 2 hours and 25 minutes of the race remaining, Nick’s main task, during a typically hectic mid-endurance race mix of prototype and GT cars all racing for their own class positions, was to cut through the traffic and push as hard as possible to set Jonny up for a podium challenge in the closing stages.
This he did brilliantly and Jonny, joining 27 seconds behind the #13 Rebellion, was able to push the 3rd placed Privateer driver Harold Primat to such an extent that Primat spun off the track with just an hour of the race remaining, allowing the Thame-based driver to bring the HPD ARX-03a home 6th overall, 3rd Privateer and 3rd in the Michelin Green X Challenge.
Jonny: “The start of the race was a bit strange as the Audi ahead of me left quite a big gap to the car in front. I got a really good start but couldn’t pass Neel Jani [#12 Rebellion] until I crossed the start/finish line and I had to back up which meant the #22 JRM and #13 Rebellion got a run on me.
We just didn’t have quite enough top speed to get past them on the track but by going to a leaner fuel map when they pitted early and double stinting our tyres we managed to jump them both in the pits.
It was another close race today but the biggest thing is that we’ve not only finished third in the race but we’ve also secured second in the P1 Privateers’ Championship, which is a really fantastic result for Strakka, Danny, Nick and myself and all the boys who’ve worked so hard this year.”
Danny: “We didn’t expect to wrap the championship up so early, especially with one round to go in Shanghai, so to achieve that is just fantastic.
It’s been a really tough year with lots of travelling and new circuits to learn and the whole team’s worked so hard, and to secure second in the Privateers’ category in our first year in the FIA World Endurance Championship is a tremendous achievement.
It was tough out there today, with lots of accidents to try and avoid, but we did well to stay out of trouble and the car ran faultlessly which meant we were able to put up another solid performance securing our third podium position in a row.”
Nick: “I’m absolutely thrilled. To come second in our first year in the FIA World Endurance Championship in the LMP1 Privateers’ category is a phenomenal achievement for a small team such as ourselves and I think that we’ve definitely proved to the bigger teams and manufacturers that we’re here and we mean to stay.
I’m really proud of the whole team and it gives us great momentum going into 2013 when we can hopefully challenge for the outright title.
Second is a really good effort and everyone in the team should be immensely proud. I’d like to thank all our partners including HPD, Wirth Research, Michelin, Eibach, ATEC, NEO Synthetic Oil, Inspiron One and Relentless Energy Drink for their support and an exceptional job this year.
It was a shame that an unlucky Le Mans cost us points-wise, but congratulations nonetheless to Rebellion, and in particular the #12 car, for doing a fine job all year and wrapping up the championship.”
Dan Walmsley, Strakka Racing Team Manager: “It’s been a really good weekend for the team because we’ve cemented our position in the Privateer Championship with second place and on our first year back in the category of LMP1 we’ve shown we can complete at the highest level.
As a technical organization we’ve demonstrated what we’re capable of and it’s really nice to celebrate that with a podium. We struggled a little bit with the car at Fuji and didn’t quite have the outright pace to challenge the Rebellion who won P1 Privateers’, but nevertheless we know where we need to improve for Shanghai and we hope to go there and finish the season off in style.”
Source: Strakka Racing