Podium Finish for Strakka at Spa
HPD Team Scores LMP2 Pole and Third-Place Finish, Le Mans Next
Strakka Racing led the Honda Performance Development prototype effort last weekend at the classic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, qualifying on the LMP2 class pole and finishing third in the final Intercontinental Le Mans Cup event prior to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Strakka trio of drivers Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts kept its HPD ARX-01d in the hunt throughout the 1,000-kilometer event, but was unfortunate to be caught in pit lane when a full-course caution came out during their second scheduled stop.
The resulting 40-second delay cost Strakka a possible second-place finish, as the HPD team finished just 10 seconds behind the runner-up Boutsen Energy Racing entry. A scare during the final laps also hindered the Strakka effort, as debris lodged in the left-front fender of the HPD prototype, leading to tire damage and a vibration, with the left-front tire fully deflating just after the checkered flag.
Two other HPD prototype teams also took part in the Spa event, but the British-based RML squad was forced to withdraw its entry following a crash in practice, when a Peugeot LMP1 car driven by Pedro Lamy clipped Mike Newton's HPD while attempting a pass, sending both cars hard into the barriers. Newton was taken to a local hospital for a precautionary examination and released, but damage to the ARX-01d was too extensive to be repaired before the race.
The American Level 5 team dropped out of the race when a yet-to-be-determined mechanical failure at the right rear of its HPD-powered Lola coupe led to contact with the guardrail and retirement after 59 laps.
Strakka also finished third at Paul Ricard in April, the opening round of the European-based Le Mans Series championship, giving the team the LMP2 championship lead after two of five events.
"It's fantastic that we're leading the [LMS] championship," said Strakka driver Jonny Kane. "The car was working really well in the fast and flowing middle sector. The whole team has done a very good job and we've come away with a good haul of points by finishing third again. It shows the team spirit we have at Strakka Racing."
"Our LMP2 program continues to make progress, and Strakka once again ran a near-perfect race," said Steve Eriksen, HPD vice president. "It's a shame that both RML and Level 5 encountered problems not of their own making, but we expect both to be back at full strength in time for Le Mans next month. To again be powering teams that are leading the LMP2 championships on both sides of the Atlantic following such significant changes in the class regulations is a real testament to the challenging spirit of our partners and HPD associates. We're also looking forward to our return to the Circuit de la Sarthe for the 24 Hours, to defend our LMP2 class victory with our new, production-based, HR28TT V-6 engine. It's a huge challenge, but we are leaving no stone unturned in our preparations."
Based on Honda's production-based global V-6, the new HPD HR28TT engine utilizes HPD's exclusive engine-control system, and is the product of a joint effort between HPD and Honda R&D Americas, Inc. (HRA).
Honda Performance Development (HPD) is the Honda racing company within North America. Founded in 1993 and located in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines. HPD is the single engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series and spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009-2010 American Le Mans Series, 2010 Le Mans Series and the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans.