Sixth placed finish at Six Hours of Fuji
17th October 2016
Strakka Racing’s hopes of delivering a strong result in Japan for absent team owner Nick Leventis faded in the setting sun after a down on power engine, together with a strategy that didn’t pan out, left duo Jonny Kane and Lewis Williamson finishing sixth at the Six Hours of Fuji.
Having been regularly among the top runners through the first part of the weekend, the team was optimistic it could get a strong result for Nick who had fallen ill in the run up to the race. The opening lap saw Strakka’s car tumble down the order after Jonny was forced to run wide at the first corner, resulting in a fall to eighth in class. The experienced Kane set about a comeback and within minutes had dispatched the SMP Racing car of former F1 driver Vitaly Petrov. With front left tyre wear an issue for many of the LMP2 contenders, Kane did his best to nurture his to allow him to maintain a consistent pace for the whole 28 lap stint. Kane’s ability to maintain lap times around 1:34 saw him eke out an extra lap of fuel than the original strategy.
Excellent pit work supported Kane’s fightback and after the pit stops, the venerable Gibson 015S was in third place and running smoothly ahead of the driver change to Lewis Williamson. Williamson, competing at Fuji for the first time opened his account with a brilliant start and within 25 minutes, had hauled the Gibson back up to fourth and was slashing the gap to the Alpine of Stefan Richelmi before completing a brilliant move to grasp third. With three hours forty remaining and regularly the quickest car on used tyres, Williamson was up to second.
At just over the halfway stage and with Williamson still holding second after three hours of racing, it was time for Jonny Kane to take his second stint behind the wheel. Emphasising the importance to stay hydrated, Strakka’s human performance coach Dean Fouache had calculated Kane had lost 1.9kg of fluids in the opening stint. A replenished and recharged Kane was back out and despite heavy tyre degradation and a brush with the KCMG Porsche, he handed the car over to Lewis in third with an hour and a quarter remaining. The final stint was stymied by the car’s engine losing power, meaning the fight for a podium became fruitless and despite everyone’s best efforts, Williamson could make no further progress before the flag fell.
“This was a frustrating weekend that despite much promise, ultimately was very unrewarding,” says team principal Dan Walmsley. “We were already struggling for straight-line speed and an engine down on power put us out of the running. We’d gone into the weekend with a plan for an aggressive strategy that didn’t work as well as we hoped. With just two drivers, we rolled the dice but it didn’t deliver. We dust ourselves down and start our preparations for China this week.”
Despite the disappointment, Strakka has moved up to fifth in the championship with two races to go. The team will resume its campaign in China with the car set to be loaded on a boat bound for Shanghai later this week ahead of the race on the 6th November.
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