Watts hoping for good start in Strakka car

MOTORsport: The 2011 Le Mans Series starts this weekend at the French circuit of Paul Ricard and Thornborough’s Danny Watts will be looking for a top result in his Strakka Racing HPD ARX-01 car, write Colin and James Beckett.

Watts was outstanding throughout the Le Mans Series and the Le Mans 24-Hour Race last year, and the highly-rated 31-year-old lines up for the new season in the Whittlebury-based Strakka team alongside Nick Leventis and Jonny Kane. The trio scored victory in the LMP2 category at Le Mans last June, and scored an overall Le Mans Series victory.

Watts is really looking forward to the new campaign, saying: “It has been a long off-season and I am really keen to start the new campaign.

“LMP2 cars have had some changes to them during the winter and so our car does feel slightly different to drive.Some of the power has been taken away and the steering feels heavier. Apart from that the car is pretty similar to what it was in 2010 and I am confident that Nick Leventis and Jonny Kane can help me win events this year.”

The Strakka Racing team will contest the LMP2 class of the Le Mans Series race alongside nine other prototypes. The LMP1 class boasts five prototypes, while the majority of entries for the race are made up of GT class cars.

As the race is for the Le Mans Series crown only, and not the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the manufacturer teams of Peugeot and Audi are absent from this weekend’s race in the south of France. Watts said: “We will not have direct competition with Audi or Peugeot until the 1000km race at Spa-Francorchamps in May. We will then see how fast LMP2 cars are against the weight of the factory teams.”

Le Mans Series calendar: April 3, Paul Ricard; May 7, Spa-Francorchamps; July 3, Imola; September 11, Silverstone; September 25, Estoril.