The waiting game didn’t quite pay off for Strakka Racing after opting to go out at the start of the qualifying session for the Six Hours of Sao Paulo at the city’s Interlagos track.
The British based LMP1 privateers dispatched driver Danny Watts out of the pits at the beginning of the 20-minute session to start a planned stint of just four laps to find the team’s HPD-powered car a place on the grid for the start of the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The gamble initially looked to have paid off, Watts setting an early time good enough for second as he briefly sat between the two diesel Audis on the timesheets. Predictably, however, as the pair of manufacturer run cars gathered speed Watts dropped to third place, setting his best time 1:24.089 on his final flying laps before returning to the pits.
“We chose to go out early to try and get as good a track position as possible,” explained Watts. “My first flying lap was good although I made a couple of small mistakes that cost me a bit of time. Then as I attempted my second I got caught up behind a LMP2 car and had no choice to abort the lap. Luckily I managed to find a bit of space for my third and final flying lap and managed to go one better. I was a little bit unlucky as I didn’t manage to get the best out of the tyres at the right time but it’s encouraging that we were only one and a half tenths off the Privateers’ pole. The most important thing is that the car’s looking good and we’re happy that we’ve got a really strong package for the race tomorrow.”
The fastest time amongst the quartet of LMP1 privateers was set by Rebellion Racing’s Neel Jani, lapping the 4.3km circuit just a tenth quicker than Watts in a time set in the second half of the session.
Watts’ time remained good enough for fifth place in class, thus the #21 car he shares with Nick Leventis and Jonny Kane will start sandwiched between the two Rebellion Lola-Toyota after Andrea Belicchi qualified just 0.090 slower than Watts.