Strakka Racing aims to revive the tradition of the small British privateer sportscar team taking on the giant car manufacturers when the Silverstone-based squad contests the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The announcement, made during the Autosport 6 Hours of Silverstone, confirms that drivers Nick Leventis, Jonny Kane and Danny Watts will move from a LMP2 chassis in the Le Mans Series to a P1 Honda Performance Development HPD ARX-03a in the WEC.
The car will be powered by a 3.4-litre normally aspirated HPD V8 engine (which has been designed and built by HPD at its headquarters in Santa Clarita, California), have an entirely new Wirth Research designed chassis and run on Michelin tyres. Testing will begin later this year in the USA, before the car is transported to its new home at Silverstone.
Established in 2007, Strakka Racing made its Le Mans 24 Hour race debut in 2008 with an Aston Martin DBR9 GT1, followed with a Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S LMP1 in 2009. A new chapter in the team's short yet successful history began with its association with Honda Performance Development, which saw a remarkable 2010 season - in which it raced the HPD-ARX 01c and became the first P2 team to win a round of the Le Mans Series outright (Hungaroring) and break five records at the Le Mans 24 Hours - including the highest overall finish by a P2 car in the history of the event, when it came home in 5th. It remains in contention for the 2011 LMS LMP2 title, after a season of exceptional team-work, intelligent race strategy, faultless driving, dogged determination and the reliability of the twin-turbo V6-engined HPD-ARX 01d.
The calendar for the WEC has yet to be announced, but Strakka Racing has no hesitation in announcing its participation, confident that the Automobile Club de l'Ouest and the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile will create a series befitting its world championship status. The Le Mans 24 Hours (16-17 June) has already been confirmed as one of the points-scoring rounds.
Nick Leventis: "The evolution of Strakka Racing has been remarkably quick and we've enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in a relatively short period of time. We always set out to be a world sportscar team and to compete at the very highest level. Our success, particularly in P2 last year, illustrates the ambition, drive, ability and skill of the team and that we are ready for the challenge of P1. We are proud of our relationship with HPD, Wirth Research and Michelin and it's a privilege to make this journey into the FIA World Endurance Championship together and demonstrate what the HPD-ARX 03a can do on a world stage. For us, it's also reviving the tradition of the small British privateer sportscar team taking on the big manufacturer teams. We hope to achieve some respectable results and spring some surprises, and I have every faith that the project will be a huge success."
Danny Watts: "I'm very excited about racing in the top class in the new FIA World Endurance Championship. Racing on the world stage in LMP1 is a natural progression for us as a team, following our success in the LMP2 category over the last two years at the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the Le Mans Series. Next year's car will clearly be very competitive as it's already finished second at Sebring, and with further development and track time we are confident of extracting even more from it. From a driver's point of view, I can't wait for the new challenges that lie ahead with a new car, new circuits and different competition."
Jonny Kane: "I'm obviously very excited about next year. I was lucky enough to have a run in the HPD LMP1 car out at Sebring after the race there earlier this year, so I got to have a taste of what's in store for next year. I know there are some differences to the car we'll be racing in 2012, but it was really good to have an early run and see what the car is capable of. As a driver coming up through the ranks, I never shied away from racing against anybody and I think everybody in the team shares that ambition judging by the way the guys prepare the trucks, the car, the speed of the pit stops, engineering and everything, so we're really looking forward to going up against all the big guys like Audi and Peugeot and trying to show what we're capable of."
Piers Phillips, Team Principal and Technical Director: "I'm extremely thrilled and excited to be in the position to announce Strakka Racing's plans for 2012 in the FIA World Endurance Championship so early ahead of the official programme announcement and before the end of the current season. It's a fantastic position to be in and it reflects not only the strong relationship that exists between Strakka, HPD and Wirth Research, but also all the hard work that's gone into the previous two and a half years. Any successful programme is a journey and our first two years were always going to be a learning curve and the plan was always to spend them in P2. The timing of this new opportunity to move into P1 has been impeccable, with the availability of the HPD-ARX 03a, the ACO and FIA's creation of a brand new world championship and the position that Strakka is in in terms of its growth and development. It's now ready to step up for the next challenge. We're delighted to be able to run a car that's undoubtedly going to be competitive from the word go due to the technical support of HPD, Wirth Research and Michelin, and we're looking forward to relishing every challenge that next year throws up."
Roger Griffiths, Technical Director at Honda Performance Development: "For everybody at Honda Performance Development, American Honda and also Honda Europe, it's extremely exciting that this announcement is coming from Strakka Racing. This is an extension of a programme that's been running for two years already and has seen a tremendous amount of success - Strakka were LMP2 winners at Le Mans in 2010 and very close to winning the championship the same year as well. What we've seen is Strakka grow as a race team into a very professional outfit. HPD prides itself on working with operations like Strakka and we believe the announcement to move to LMP1 now is a culmination of the fruits of our efforts over the past two years to really take the team to the next level. HPD is bringing its experience from sportscar racing in North America to help Strakka get the success that we know that they're capable of and we're very proud to continue our relationship."
Nick Wirth, President of Wirth Research: "Wirth Research has worked with Strakka Racing for some time now and we are two companies tied by a common quest for perfection and success. With Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane driving, Strakka presents a formidable on-track force and, coupled with the excellent technical team lead by Piers Phillips and Karl Patman [Assistant Team Manager], they set the highest standards of professionalism. We are delighted to renew our partnership with them."