Strakka Racing will start the Le Mans 24 Hours from the unofficial privateer pole position after a fine performance from Danny Watts in qualifying at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Watts was the first driver in a privateer car to break the 3min 30secs barrier this week as he secured seventh on the grid in the HPD ARX-03a he will share with Jonny Kane and team boss Nick Leventis.
His time of 3min 29.622secs would end up being two-tenths of a second quicker than the time set by Neel Jani in his Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota, with the Swiss driver the only other privateer LMP1 man to break the 3min 30secs mark.
“I'm delighted for the whole team, because to get privateer pole after all the work that everyone has done in the build up to Le Mans is very rewarding,” Watts said. “Qualifying is only a very small part of this race, but it's nice to know first hand that our car is fast. I really enjoyed my fastest lap. I was thoroughly in the zone, focused and concentrated – and it was one of those balls on the line laps which came off.
“Having low fuel tanks and new tyres is the best thing a team can give to a racing driver, and I was fairly lucky that I didn't hit any traffic, except at the final chicane, which to be fair didn't cost me hardly any time. We're fairly confident for the race; we've ticked a lot of boxes in terms of car set-up and tyre management for the race, we've all had some good night running to pick our braking points, because it all feels very different at night, and we've come out of qualifying in a strong position and are really looking forward to the race. Happy days!”