Strakka forced to withdraw as teams prepare for Le Mans

Strakka Racing have been forced to withdraw from this year's Le Mans race
Strakka Racing have been forced to withdraw from this year's Le Mans race

Whittlebury’s Strakka Racing have been forced to withdraw from the Le Mans 24-Hour Race after their Strakka DOME S103 car was involved in a test accident at Spa-Francorchamps this week.

Thornborough’s Danny Watts was at the wheel of the team’s LMP2 specification prototype when the car crashed at Eau Rouge corner.

Watts was not injured in the incident but sufficient damage was caused to the car to force the team to cancel plans for June’s race.

Watts said: “I spun and made contact with the barriers. The car was not that badly damaged but as this is a new project we just don’t have the time or resources to repair the car before this weekend’s pre-race test.”

Having missed the opening two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship due to the ongoing development of the new DOME S103 car, Strakka Racing opted to head to the Belgian Spa-Francorchamps track for a test before heading to France this weekend.

After being forced to withdraw from Le Mans because of the test accident, the team now pledge to continue their WEC assault as soon as possible, with Nick Leventis, Strakka team boss, saying: “This is a big blow to the team, our fans and for those who had been planning to support us at Le Mans. We will work with the ACO, organisers of Le Mans and the WEC, to get our 2014 season on-track as soon as possible.”

Krohn Racing have been handed a late entry to the race as replacements for the Strakka entry. Krohn will contest the LM-GTE class with a Ferrari 458 Italia.

All teams and drivers racing in this year’s Le Mans will be in France this weekend to take part in the pre-race test.

From 9am on Sunday, those taking part will be on-track at the Circuit de la Sarthe for a day of testing that finalises preparations ahead of the world’s most famous endurance race.

In recent years, the race has been dominated by Audi, but this year they face strong opposition in the leading prototype class from Toyota and Porsche. The Toyota team will be led by Brackley-based racer, Anthony Davidson, while Porsche are led by recently retired Formula One driver, Mark Webber.

The eight hours of track time on Sunday will allow everyone entered for the race to drive their car, including former Buckingham University student, Marc Gene, who will drive a Zytek-Nissan LMP2 car for the Jota Sport team.

Winner of the race back in 2009 with Peugeot Sport, Gene has also been a multiple podium finisher at Le Mans with Audi. Loaned to Jota Sport for this year’s race, Gene will be making his second appearance in the LMP2 division having made his debut in the 6-Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in May.

He said: “Le Mans is such an important race and it is something very important to be involved with. When Audi suggested to me that I should drive for Jota Sport in the LMP2 class for the 2014 race, I jumped at the chance.

“I have good experience in this race and I raced here first back in 2007. This will be my eighth Le Mans 24-Hours and I am looking forward to it very much.”

Gene will share the Jota car with Harry Tincknell and Simon Dolan. He added: “We had a good race at Spa and arrive here full of confidence.

“We believe we will be in a strong position to race for victory in LMP2 and this weekend’s test should give us an indication of the pace of the other cars.”

Also racing in the LMP2 class are the Silverstone-based Millennium Racing, whose Oreca 03-Nissan will be driven by John Martin, Oliver Turvey and Fabian Giroix. Silverstone’s Ram Racing are also competing with a Ferrari 458 Italia car in the LM-GTE class.