Strakka Racing will be posting columns from some of its key personalities throughout the FIA WEC season. The longstanding British sportscar team is competing once again with a Gibson 015S in the LMP2 class in 2016, and will be sharing some of their experiences throughout the year with DSC’s reader base.
Here’s Strakka’s first column, by team founder and driver Nick Leventis, who has been committed to the WEC since its inception back in 2012. He is considered one of the most experienced gentlemen drivers in not only the WEC paddock, but in all of sportscars:
It’s been a manic offseason for myself and the team, getting ready for a new year. There’s so much going on behind the scenes at Strakka Racing, some of which we’ll hopefully be able to talk about soon. But this year, the focus is on our World Endurance Championship LMP2 programme and the new Renault R.S.01 we are running with Lewis Williamson.
A positive weekend on home soil
I think the whole team is proud of their efforts at Silverstone. If you’d have told us that we would be able to take fifth in-class before the weekend we’d have been very happy. We’ve shown the Gibson can deliver the pace, even though it’s not the youngest car and it remains an LMP2 that is really easy on its tyres. We are sure to see that come into play in the year. Le Mans we expect is going to be the strongest round for the team, and honestly we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We had all those issues with the DOME’s development, and took a year out of racing before that, so it’s taken a while to hit our stride as a group again. I think at Silverstone we can confidently say we are back to where we were. Both Danny (Watts) and Jonny (Kane) drove really well in the race.
I personally did a lot of work over the off-season to improve my ability in the car, spending a lot of days driving Formula Renault 2.0 cars in particular, and it paid dividends. I needed to get lots of seat time because the WEC has taken yet another step up in quality and professionalism, so it’s become imperative not to get left behind.
Rising driving standards
With LMP2 now, the standard of drivers and teams has never been higher; There are so many good outfits in the WEC this season; the field is classy, it’s a true world championship now, you can’t expect less than what we have. There are issues with the silver driver status though. We don’t pay too much attention to it, but there is talk that the most successful team in P2 will be the one that fields the best silver drivers.
It’s tricky, because driving ability is so subjective, and the ACO should keep an eye on it so it doesn’t get unfair. They have done a good job so far, but it still needs monitoring. For silver drivers like myself who have other business commitments outside of racing, it means you require so much more dedication now than before.
New faces in the paddock
The WEC still has an extremely high level of camaraderie among the teams in the paddock. It’s astonishing to be racing at this high of a level and still be able to walk in and out of other garages and chat to competitors. The balance is perfect, but they need to be careful going forward so that they don’t make the same mistakes F1 made. The FIA and ACO need to continue to listen to the teams and drivers. Right now though, there’s no real issues, that’s why a team like Manor want to come in and do well. I think it’s great that they’ve shown the benefits of leaving Formula One to do the WEC and been vocal about it.
I had a chat to them afterwards, and they were honest that it was a baptism of fire. They know that they have a big task ahead to get results.
Going forward teams like Manor could be more and more valuable. The organisers need to remember that manufacturers, while incredibly important to the series, are not the only ones spending money, if they keep open conversations going with private teams like mine, the series will continue to thrive. P2 is a great platform for teams to go racing at a high level for a reasonable amount of money.
From Strakka’s side we are working hard with the series organisers to determine our own plans for 2017 and we expect to announce what we plan to do before too long.
Looking ahead to Spa
The round at Spa is up next for the WEC, and that event always excites me. It’s a track we feel we can do well at.
The team, and all of the drivers know the circuit well, we always enjoy racing there and the Gibson chassis has had a great track record there in recent years.
We’ll be pushing hard to get a hatful of additional points on the board. It will be nice to leave a calling card on the results sheets.
The season starts here!