A fierce battle for private team honors in the P1 class at Sunday’s Six Hours of Silverstone came down to the final lap of the World Endurance Championship’s British round, with a valiant effort from Danny Watts in the Strakka Racing Honda Performance Development entry coming up just a half-second short of a come-from-behind victory after a thrilling late-race charge.
A similar fight in the smaller-engined P2 class also saw the HPD-equipped Starworks team finish second after a race-long contest, with no fewer than a half-dozen contending teams and multiple lead changes throughout the six hours.
After qualifying fourth overall, and first in the “privateer” order for non-manufacturer works entries, the Strakka HPD ARX-03a of Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts took the early lead, ahead of a pair of Toyota-powered Lolas from Rebellion Racing. All four private team entries often remained on the same lap, despite a quick spin on the opening lap by the JRM ARX-03a of David Brabham, Karun Chandhok and Peter Dumbreck.
At the start of the final hour, Strakka was solidly in second, more than one minute behind the leading Rebellion entry of Andrea Belicchi. But with Watts at the wheel, the margin was being reduced by a second or more each lap. By the start of the final lap, the gap was just 1.7 seconds, and once again Watts made up more than a second and took the checkers just six-tenths of a second behind Belicchi.
JRM completed the Honda-powered P1 field with a fourth-place finish among the private teams, seventh overall.
In P2, the final hour featured a showdown between Starworks, utilizing Honda’s HR28TT twin-turbo V6 engine, and the Nissan-powered entries of the defending champion Signatech team and ADR-Delta, the only team other than Starworks to win in P2 this year. All three led at different stages of the race, with Starworks holding the advantage until the final round of pit stops was completed.
With his own final-hour charge, Starworks driver Stephane Sarrazin saw a gap of nearly one minute cut to just over five seconds at the finish, with ADR-Delta scoring its second P2 class win of 2012. Starworks also has a pair of wins, including the P2 victory at Le Mans, giving the American team an 11-point lead in the P2 standings.
Having finished its 2012 North American and European rounds, the World Endurance Championship now heads to Brazil, for the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo on Saturday, September 15.
Danny Watts (# Strakka Racing HPD ARX-03a) finished 2nd among private P1 teams at Silverstone: “It was tough, but a lot of fun. It’s good when you’ve got a carrot like that [the Rebellion entry] to chase down and every lap was like a qualifying lap. My final stint was the longest I’ve ever driven any car for at that pace in my life. I felt massively dehydrated when I got out of the car, but the chase kept me going. I could see we were catching the Rebellion and that, together with the guys on the pit wall, spurred me on, and as we crossed the finish line it was just a stone’s throw away. That’s frustrating, because one more lap and we’d have had him. Our car’s been great, we’ve scored good WEC points and the entire team never put a foot wrong all weekend. Jonny [Kane] and Nick [Leventis] did a great job before me to put the car right up in a position to challenge for the privateer win, and we know we can challenge for that award every time we race now.\"
Steve Eriksen (Vice President, Honda Performance Development) on Sunday’s WEC race at Silverstone: “For the second week in a row, there was a thrilling finish for sports car racing and its fans. Both last weekend’s four-hour American Le Mans Series race at Road America and today’s six-hour run at Silverstone featured HPD teams in a fight going right to the finish line. The \"never-say-die\" tenacity of the HPD teams shown during the race really exemplifies the Honda Racing Spirit and made for a real ‘nail biter’ ending after six hours of intense racing. Unfortunately there aren\'t wins to show for the effort but there is solace in knowing that the teams tried their very best.\"