Ulsterman and sportscar racer Jonny Kane has confirmed his racing plans for 2012, as Silverstone based Strakka Racing announced that they will be contesting the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with The Le Mans 24 Hours (16-17 June) being confirmed as one of the points-scoring rounds.

Strakka racing confirmed that drivers Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts will move from a LMP2 chassis in the Le Mans Series to a P1 HPD ARX-03a. The car will be powered by a 3.4-litre normally aspirated HPD V8 engine and have an entirely new Wirth Research-designed chassis and run on Michelin tyres. Testing will begin later this year in the USA, before the car is transported to its new home at Silverstone.

The news came during the Autosport 6 Hours of Silverstone and Kane commented “I’m obviously very excited about next year. I was lucky enough to have a run in the HPD LMP1 car out at Sebring after the race there earlier this year, so I got to have a taste of what’s in store for next year. I know there are some differences to the car we’ll be racing in 2012, but it was really good to have an early run and see what the car is capable of. As a driver coming up through the ranks, I never shied away from racing against anybody, so we’re really looking forward to going up against all the big guys like Audi and Peugeotand trying to show what we’re capable of.”

Unfortunately the good news didn’t spread on to the track, as Strakka Racing could have secured a podium position in the Autosport 6 Hours of Silverstone today had it not been for an avoidable collision on lap 16 of the race which caused substantial damage to its HPD ARX-01d. Throughout the race the Silverstone-based team demonstrated incredible defiance as it recorded the fastest tyre change in the pit lane and its three drivers, consistently out-paced all other LMP2 cars on the track – to such an extent that it regained three full laps lost during repairs in the pits.

Race Report:

Kane got the teams race underway from LMP2 pole position and was overtaken by Greaves Motorsport’s Tom Kimber-Smith at the start, but kept the Zytek in his sights for 15 laps before making a stunning move on lap 16 to retake the lead.  His glory was short lived however, as on the next lap, the Larbre Competition Corvette car turned in on him at Club Corner as he tried to overtake, causing a left rear puncture.  With almost an entire lap’s distance to the pits, the tyre blew causing considerable damage to the engine cover, suspension components and rear crash structure.

The team did a stellar job to get the Relentless Energy Drink-backed car back out on track as soon as possible, but the extent of the damage meant that 27 minutes were lost.  Leventis took the wheel and re-joined the race 14 laps down in 9th position.  With five hours left, the team remained defiant as Leventis completed a faultless stint of 49 laps and one hour and 37 minutes in the car, setting some truly impressive lap times.

Watts was next out and given a free reign to push as hard as possible.  This wasn’t easy with a field of slower cars to plough through, but an unyielding attack over 54 laps and 1 hour and 37 minutes paid off as Watts managed to move Strakka up to 8th, consistently lapping fastest LMP2.  With an hour and a half of the race remaining, Kane took over the final charge and again set an awesome pace to the flag to bring the car home in 8th – scant reward for a faultless performance and incredible team effort all weekend.

“It’s a very frustrating day and unfortunately a split second has changed the entire race for us.  The car was quick and reliable and if it hadn’t been for that one incident I think we would have been on for a very strong result.  The most annoying thing for me is that the Corvette that I had contact with blocked me two corners before, so he knew that I was there and trying to overtake.  I’d overtaken people earlier in the race and all through the free practice sessions and warm-up and even last year at the same corner without any trouble at all.  He obviously just didn’t allow me any room or turned in to early and unfortunately gave me a puncture with an entire lap to do.  Eventually the tyre let go and caused a fair bit of damage to the floor and the rear bodywork and it was a real uphill battle from then.  The boys did an amazing job to get the car out as quickly as they did and we ran as quickly as we could, but unfortunately nobody else had any problems.  It’s been a lot of hard work from everybody and a few points which is some consolation, but it’s not the result we wanted today.” – Jonny Kane

Strakka Racing’s next race is the 6 Hours of Estoril (23-25 September).

Huge thanks to Tony Gregory for the write-up.