Strakka Racing will realign its motorsport strategy in 2017 by becoming a McLaren customer team in the Blancpain GT Series.
The Silverstone-based outfit will run at least four McLaren 650S GT3s in next season’s Blancpain Endurance Cup, which includes the Spa 24 Hours.
One of the four cars will be reserved for 2017 McLaren GT Academy drivers.
Team owner and driver Nick Leventis said that partnering with McLaren was a “proud moment” in Strakka Racing’s history.
He also noted that the involvement of the McLaren GT Academy would fit in with the aims of Strakka Performance, the team’s own driver development programme.
“Creating this partnership with such an esteemed brand as McLaren is, for me, the most exciting chapter and proud moment in Strakka’s ten year history,” said Leventis.
“We are now working with one of the most successful and prestigious GT3 manufacturers with a commitment to build a long term future together.”
“Alongside the opportunity to work closely with a manufacturer such as McLaren GT and join its portfolio of winning customer teams challenging for race victories and championships, we will also support the development of McLaren GT’s Academy Driver programme via our Strakka Performance and Simulation programmes.”
Driver lineups for the four confirmed Blancpain Endurance Cup efforts will be determined at a series of track tests in the coming weeks.
“We’d like to offer a number of junior single seater drivers the opportunity to try a GT3 car and understand the potential it provides for a career,” said team principal Dan Walmsley.
“You’ve seen how effective Lewis Williamson has been making the switch to sportscars and he is revelling in the new challenge.”
“We also want experienced drivers in the team, not only for performance but also as a benchmark for the Academy Drivers to work towards. Jonny Kane is driving better than ever and still one of the fastest guys in LMP2.”
Andrew Kirkaldy, managing director of the McLaren GT programme, added:
“It’s great to have Strakka Racing on board and we look forward to seeing it hit the ground running with a comprehensive winter test programme.”
“It has demonstrated its ambition from the outset with its hunger to win in one of the world’s toughest-contested championships such as the Blancpain GT Series, which is exactly what we hope for when approached by new customers.”
“There is a real depth of talent in its engineers and pit crew, and it has proven itself in car preparation and pit-stop competitiveness, which coupled with its off-track infrastructure fits perfectly within the Blancpain GT Series arena.”
The move back to GT racing means Strakka Racing will discontinue its World Endurance Championship LMP2 programme next year.
The Gibson 015S chassis will reach the end of its tenure at the end of 2016 ahead of the new class regulations.
Strakka Racing had been developing its own LMP1 effort based on the LMP2-spec Strakka-Dome S103, but those plans have since dematerialised.
The team made its final WEC appearance at the 6 Hours of Fuji in October, but it has not ruled out returning to the WEC when the time is right.
“The regulations came too late to get an LMP1-L car ready for 2017 and to stay in the championship next year would have meant acquiring a P2 car,” added Walmsley.
“It is a fantastic championship so expect to see us back racing there again.”
Strakka Racing will begin its latest motorsport venture at the Monza round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup on April 23.