30 May 2012
Strakka's all-British line-up to fly flag at Le Mans
Jonny Kane: I've no doubt we'll be up there fighting to be top privateer and top petrol car, and we've got a great chance to succeed.
Strakka Racing will field the only all-British driver line-up at this year's 80th Le Mans 24 Hours, with Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane racing a Honda Performance Development ARX-03a.
In honour of both the occasion and the 70,000 British fans that annually make the pilgrimage to the famous Circuit La Sarthe, the Silverstone-based team's LMP1 prototype will run with a Union Flag on the shark fin - the obligatory vertical aerodynamic device which runs down the spine of the car.
Strakka has a good record at Le Mans and in 2010, the same three drivers finished fifth overall – the highest finishing position for a LMP2 car.
This year, whilst outright victory is not out of the question, the team's main aim is to challenge for the top petrol engine car position as well as best privateer team. Indeed, after strong performances in the opening rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Sebring and Spa, Strakka Racing is second in the 2012 FIA Endurance Trophy for the best private LMP1 team.
The team's drivers know the 8.468 mile (13.629km) Le Mans track well – a circuit which has changed little from its original 10.68 mile (17.2km) layout raced on for the first time in 1923. Much of today's track is made up of roads normally open to the public, with grooves carved by weighty trucks on the Route Nationale 138, heading towards the village of Mulsanne and beyond, one of the many unique characteristics.
Leventis has stood on the Le Mans podium twice before, having finished third in the 2007 Le Mans Classic support race (his maiden visit to the track) and first in LMP2 in the 24 Hour race in 2010. This will be the 31-year old driver's fifth appearance at Le Mans, as he aims for another podium and double points in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“With experience of racing both classic and modern cars at Le Mans, I'm looking forward to going there this year with the aim of scoring an outright podium result and challenging to be top privateer in the FIA World Endurance Championship,” he said. “Le Mans is a very special race, and the Mulsanne Straight moves me emotionally every time I drive down it. I love the challenge in that the race is not held on a purpose-built race track; half of it is on normal roads which are used every day throughout the year before it's transformed into this incredibly long, quite demanding, physical circuit that runs for twenty-four hours. Everything about Le Mans is unique and it's a very special place – and we return this year with an excellent chance of challenging for a top position.”
For Watts this will be his fifth attempt at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Regarded as one of the fastest and bravest drivers in sportscar racing, the 32-year old will once again be task with qualifying the HPD ARX-03a as far up the grid as possible – having claimed LMP2 pole in the past.
“We go to Le Mans this year with a very competitive car, an experienced team and a lot of confidence. Le Mans is such a high-speed circuit, we'll hit two hundred miles per hour four or five times each lap,” Watts stated. “To be successful you have to be consistent, so the pace doesn't drop at night. At four o'clock in the morning and your body is in sleep mode, you rely a lot on adrenalin to keep you going – but if you lack half a second's worth of concentration and crash into another car, drop a wheel onto the grass or hit a barrier, that's it – the whole team effort has gone out of the window. The final stint of the race is very difficult. It's Sunday afternoon, you've had very little sleep, your body's all over the place physically and mentally – that's the hardest part.”
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