Strakka Racing bidding to be top privateer at Le Mans 2012
Only one team in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours features an all-British driver line-up, leading LMP1 privateer squad Strakka Racing, and the Silverstone squad is committed to being the best of the ‘non-works’ entries when the chequered flag falls at the Circuit de la Sarthe on Sunday afternoon.
Headed by team principal and technical director Piers Phillips, Strakka has one of the strongest driver line-ups of any of the privateer entries at Le Mans with Danny Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis charged with piloting the petrol-engined HPD ARX-03a.
Resplendent in a striking new colour scheme for 2012, featuring a Union Flag on the engine cover bodywork, the Strakka car was very quick during the official pre-event test and posted the seventh fastest time – behind only the manufacturer-entered Audis and Toyotas – to be top privateer.
“Our overall performance was good and we were the top petrol engine car and privateer team all day, so the Le Mans test could not have gone better”, said Phillips, “We signed off a number of components that we’ll use in the race, we acquired a lot of good data and ticked a lot of the boxes in terms of where we want to be when the race starts.”
For 32-year-old Watts, widely considered to be one of the world’s top sportscar racers, this year’s visit to Le Mans will be his fifth. Originally, the Michelin columnist started out on the path to Formula One and after winning the Formula Renault UK title in 2002, he graduated into Formula 3 and became the first and only Briton to be placed on the Renault F1 Team development programme.
With no doors to the Formula One grid opening, Danny’s attention turned to sportscar racing and since then he has become a very successful star of sportscar competition – winning the LMP2 Class at Le Mans with Strakka, and team-mates Kane and Leventis, in 2010.
Kane, like Watts, was a rising star of single-seater competition to begin and after being named the McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year in 1995, after winning the Formula Vauxhall title, he went on to become British F3 Champion in 1997. In 2001 he became a Formula One test driver for Arrows before moving into sportscars where he has competed at Le Mans on eight occasions.
Former downhill skier Leventis, who had to call-time on his initial sporting career due to a serious back injury, is the least experienced of the Strakka trio but he more than makes up for that with his determination and the knowledge garnered from his two star team-mates. Starting out in historics and touring cars, he made his Le Mans debut in 2008.
Keep up with all the latest news from this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours race at Michelin’s official Le Mans website www.lemanslive.com
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