Strakka Racing recorded a sensational result at the 6 Hours of Bahrain, scoring a dominant win in the FIA World Endurance Championship for Privateers’ category and finishing 3rd overall with its Honda Performance Development ARX-03a.
The speed and reliability of the 3.4-litre normally aspirated, 600bhp, HPD ARX-03a, impeccable pit crew work and the team’s strategy of only single-stinting its drivers paid dividends, as this allowed Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane to push hard at all times, regardless of the fact that the race started in extreme desert heat conditions – with air and track surface temperatures of 35 and 43ºC respectively.
The results ensures that Strakka Racing remains in contention for the WEC for Privateers’ title with two races remaining in Japan and China, with a large points advantage over its third placed rival.
Jonny made the perfect start from the inside of row three and held onto 2nd Privateer position during a faultless 26-lap stint around the 3.36 mile (5.412km) Bahrain Grand Prix circuit.
Nick took over and despite painful pins and needles throughout his stint, he moved Strakka Racing into the Privateer lead. However, he had to be helped out of the car at the driver change and, unable to move easily, struggled to strap Danny into the car as quickly as normal. The 40 seconds lost in the pits saw Danny re-join the race as 3rd Privateer, as the desert darkness descended.
The team then hunted down the two Rebellion Racing Lolas ahead. Danny overtook the #13 car driven by Andrea Belicchi before Jonny closed in on the #12 of Nicolas Prost, until the latter pitted, surrendering the Privateer lead. Strakka had another driver change coming up, and despite having to repair a damaged left hand side number plate, Danny re-joined in the lead after a magnificent lightning quick pit crew procedure.
With a healthy Privateer lead, the #7 works Toyota dived down the inside of Jonny to lap him, but made contact. The Strakka ARX-03a was forced to come into the pits to replace a rear left puncture, while the Toyota suffered irreparable damaged.
Despite some impact-related handling problems, Danny was able to complete the race at a good pace, finishing a lap ahead of the #12 Rebellion to win the Privateers’ award and finish 3rd overall behind the two works Audis.
Nick: “Our strategy of single-stinting certainly gave us the edge today and our car ran perfectly. It’s been an incredible team effort and I’m immensely proud of every member of the team for all their hard work in achieving this result. My stint was unfortunately cut short because of pain in my leg – it’s a problem we’ve suffered with at times this year, I think it’s belt-related, and this time I fell foul of it. It was the most painful driving stint I’ve ever done in a racing car. After a short while I had no feeling in my right foot at all; it was okay when I was pressing down on full throttle, but I had no sensation in my lower right leg, so regulating movement was impossible. I knew I’d need help getting out of the car and that I’d struggle helping Danny get strapped in, and the pit stop ended up being a catalogue of errors! We lost forty seconds but luckily it all came good in the end.”
Danny: “It’s a fantastic achievement to finish third overall, but of course we weren’t really racing the works Audis and Toyota and we were very focused on trying to win the Privateers’ battle. We’re a small team, all the guys put in a huge amount of work to make sure the car is fast and reliable and the conditions this week have been extremely difficult, not just for the drivers, but also for all the team members working on the car. They deserve all the credit for this race result and it will give us the confidence to go to Japan knowing exactly what dedication and hard work can actually achieve.”
Jonny: “Our pace has been really good all season, the competition in the P1 Privateers’ category is very close and this time we came out on top. We’ve had a good car underneath us all season, and it’s a fantastic achievement to not only win the Privateers’ award, but to also stand on the third step of the overall podium – it just shows what a great team effort this was. I had a little coming together with the #7 Toyota. Its transponder wasn’t working, so we didn’t know it was following me, but where it tried to overtake I don’t really think was the right place because they have a massive straight-line speed advantage over us and could have safely overtaken on a straight. At the end of the day it was just a racing incident, but it gave us a puncture, damaged a side pod and upset the balance of the car so it was sliding about a lot. Luckily we were able to continue at a fairly good pace and finish the race.”
Dan Walmsley, Strakka Racing’s Team Manager: “The whole team is delighted by achieving our first Privateer win of the year and having the honour to be the first Privateer team to stand on the P1 podium, which has been dominated by the manufacturers all season. It’s a testament to all the hard work that every single member of the Strakka Racing team has put into this project since before the beginning of the season. It’s very satisfying that the combination of reliability, outright pace and strategy meant that we could not be beaten by any other Privateer team in Bahrain.”
Round 7 of the FIA WEC is the 6 Hours of Fuji on October 14.
Time-lapsed significant race moments
00mins: Danny takes the chequered flag, to claim 1st WEC Privateers’ and 3rd overall
44mins: Driver change, Danny in for Jonny. Fuel. 1st Privateer and 3rd overall
1hrs 17mins: Incident with #7 Toyota. Stopped to replace a punctured left rear tyre. 1st Privateer and 3rd overall
1hrs 29mins: Fuel only stop during Safety Car period
1hrs 50mins: Driver change, Jonny in for Danny. Tyres and fuel. 1st Privateer and 4th overall
2hrs 39mins: Driver change, Danny in for Jonny. Tyres, fuel and replace left side number panel. 1st Privateer and 4th overall
2hrs 44mins: Having taken almost a minute out of leader, #12 Rebellion pits. Strakka Racing moves to 1st Privateer and 3rd overall
3hrs 29mins: Driver change, Jonny in for Danny. Tyres and fuel. 2nd Privateer and 4th overall
3hrs 42mins: Danny overtakes #13 Rebellion. 2nd Privateer and 5th overall
4hrs 19mins: Driver change, Danny in for Nick. Tyres and fuel. 1st Privateer and 4th overall. Long stop as Nick has to be helped out of car. 40 seconds lost. 3rd Privateer and 5th overall
5hrs 11mins: Driver change, Nick in for Jonny. Tyres and fuel. 2nd Privateer and 5th overall
6hrs 00mins: Jonny makes a great start from 2nd Privateer and 5th overall. Challenges #12 Rebellion into T1, but holds position. Air temp 35ºC / track 43ºC