Strakka Racing concluded their record-breaking season with another emphatic class win in the final round of the Le Mans Series at Silverstone on Sunday. The team's three drivers; Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts built on an unbeaten run of pole position starts to win LMP2 by a margin of almost a minute, overcoming bodywork damage along the way and establishing a new class lap record for the redeveloped Silverstone circuit.
Once again Danny Watts claimed LMP2 pole for the team's HPD ARX-01c in a remarkable display that required a single flying lap to clinch the front row slot. From that excellent foundation, Jonny Kane's opening race stint developed into a class lead of more than 90 seconds. He handed over to Nick Leventis with the #42 heading LMP2 from fifth overall, but Nick had been on track less than fifteen minutes when the car was tipped into a spin by one of the GT2 midfielders, and inadvertently swiped across the rear by one of the other prototypes. The Strakka HPD sustained damage to the rear panel and had to pit for bodywork repairs.
The team's engineers effected a rapid exchange of panels and Leventis was back out and racing again in moments, but the lead had gone. Nick resumed a distant fifth in LMP2, beginning a spirited recovery that saw the #42 car within sight of second place before the end of his stint. Under instructions from team manager Piers Phillips to string together "sixty qualifying laps", Watts demolished more than a minute of the remaining deficit with the first twelve laps of his first stint. He'd regained second position within thirty minutes, and took the lead inside an hour. By the time he crossed the line to take the chequered flag he'd eased clear by 54 seconds.
"What a fantastic day," said Piers Phillips. "That was an unbelievable performance by every member of the team. Quite exemplary. The race was eventful and challenging, but ultimately very rewarding. Jonny's first stint offered a great platform to build on, and win, but Nick was very unfortunate in the incident with the backmarker. The team worked remarkably quickly to have him back out again so soon. He got his head down and fought back. It was a very creditable performance. Danny then rose to the challenge and turned the deficit right round until he lead by over a minute. With that advantage we could afford to ease back and relax to the finish."
"It's a great way to finish off the year," said Jonny Kane. "We can't be disappointed with this season in any way. We've achieved so much. We said at the start of the year that we wanted to win Le Mans and a Le Mans Series race outright, and we've done both. The whole team should feel very proud of everything they've achieved."
"This has been another fantastic result for Strakka," said Nick Leventis. "We knew the HPD was going to be quick at Silverstone, but Jonny and Danny showed exactly what it was capable of. I had a difficult stint and had to make an unscheduled pitstop for repairs, but the team did an excellent job in turning the car around, and it could have been a lot worse. I came back out in third, and was closing down on second fairly quickly before the end of my stint. I was pleased with that."
"We must give full credit for this fantastic result to everyone who's worked so hard to make it possible, including HPD, Wirth Research, Michelin and the team at Strakka," added Nick. "2010 has been a tremendous year for us, and the title would just have been the perfect bonus, but if we'd won that as well, what would that have left for us to aim for next year? To win a championship you have to finish every race, exactly as RML has done. We've got to look to achieve that in 2011."
Strakka won LMP2 at Le Mans in June, finishing fifth overall, and then won the Hungaroring 1000 Kilometres in August. "After the disappointment of the Algarve, we bounced back to win outright in Hungary. From a team point of view, that demonstrates that we have the spirit to win," said Nick. "We're here for the long term, and we relish the challenges ahead. We're already looking forward to 2011, when I'm sure we'll be back even stronger and more determined."