Strakka Racing pairing Nick Leventis and Peter Hardman got the chance to sample an LMP1 prototype for the first time during the course of a two-day test session in Spain.

The duo had booked the Circuit Ricardo Tormo near Valencia for two days of private testing with their Aston Martin DBR9, but invited Zytek Automotive and AF Corse to join them for the Spanish test.

The main job for the test was to try out a number of different tyre compounds on the Aston Martin, with Hardman admitting that without a competitive deal, the team wouldn't run the car in 2009.

"We had some issues this year," he said. "We need to sort those out before we commit to a full season in the Le Mans Series with the Aston. The bottom line is, we do not have a competitive tyre deal agreed as yet, and without that we shall not run the DBR9 in 2009.

"We need to be confident that we can challenge regularly for wins, but we're in the fortunate position of having a good budget in place for next season. That means we're able to look seriously at the alternatives, and one of those is to step up to prototypes; either LMP2 or even LMP1. It's just a year earlier than we'd originally planned."

With the LMP1 Zytek present at the test after returning from the United States, where it took fourth in class in the Petit Le Mans, Hardman and Leventis both had the chance to sample the car for the first time and Leventis said it had left the team to consider what would be the best option for 2009.

"I couldn't believe how easy it was compared to the Aston," he said. "I felt able to push, right from the start, and that gave me the confidence to go quicker. I was very close to Peter's times in the Zytek, and that suggests we could be a very competitive pairing. Having never driven a car like that before, to be on the pace so soon was very encouraging. It has certainly opened doors that we might not have considered before.

"I'd never have even considered a prototype drive a few weeks ago but we now have to assess our options in detail in the light of this test. It may depend largely on who's going to give us the most support, but I certainly wouldn't rule out a move into prototypes. In every respect, it has been a very productive two days, and that's a nice way to end what's otherwise been a frustrating season. Roll on 2009!"



Loading Comments...