Despite a troubled race that included two episodes of costly contact with other cars Strakka Racing finished sixth overall, completing an enviable record of eight podium visits in the eight races of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Confirmed as vice-champions in the LMP1 teams’ championship following the Six Hours of Fuji the all British team, with drivers Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane looked likely to lose their perfect podium record looked to be jeopardy despite a strong start, Danny Watts chasing down the leading Rebellion Racing entry for the privateers’ lead.
However a slow puncture on the left-rear tyre and then damage following contact with Macel Fassler’s Audi forced the team to make two unscheduled pitstops, effectively ending their chances of a final victory to end their first season in LMP1.
Their luck failed to change when Leventis stepped into the driving seat to complete the driver rotation when he was hit by a GTE Ferrari, prompting another unscheduled pitstop, though this proved to be purely precautionary. However, the cumulative effect of the three delays had dropped the team to tenth overall.
Through second stints for both Kane and Leventis, completing the race for the team, they moved back up to seventh overall – the tail of the LMP1 cars – but still fourth amongst the privateers. Only a late failure for the Rebellion Lola of Nicolas Prost brought a late change in fortune and lifted the Strakka crew up to the final step of the podium.
“We were unlucky at the beginning of this race with Danny picking up a slow puncture and then being hit by the Audi, which cost us a lap,” said Leventis. “Jonny and Danny did great first stints, but those unfortunate pit stops put us on the back foot. I was making up ground and had an incident with a Ferrari GT; it was a fairly major impact, so I did a lap to assess the damage before coming into the pits – and by the time I’d got going again we’d lost almost three laps.”
“It was just a case of keeping out of trouble and bringing the car home after all of that, which we did. It’s great to finish on the podium once again, but I’m a bit gutted because you could see from the early part of the race what a great pace we had and that we could have challenged for the privateers’ victory.”
“It was nice to finish the season with a podium,” said team manager Dan Walmsley, “because we really have to give thanks to everyone in the team who have worked so hard since the car arrived in our workshop in January. We’ve worked hard to unlock the performance of the car, the performance of the drivers, we’ve established a great reliability record, we can take the fight to the very best privateer teams in LMP1 and we’re hoping to raise that bar next year and try to get in amongst the manufacturers – and we’re very hopeful that the upgrades over the winter will help us bridge that gap.”
“As a first year back in LMP1, I don’t think we could have asked much more than to finish all eight races on the Privateers’ podium, be the only WEC Privateer team to stand on the overall podium, be in the mix regardless of the track layout and weather conditions and finish second in a world championship. It’s a very proud moment and we need to review, reflect and build towards an even stronger 2013.”