Watts leads Strakka to podium finish

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THORNBOROUGH’S Danny Watts led Strakka Racing to an amazing podium finish in round six of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

The Whittlebury-based team recorded a sensational result at the 6 Hours of Bahrain, scoring a dominant win in the FIA World Endurance Championship for Privateers’ category and finishing third overall with its Honda Performance Development ARX-03a.

In a race where air temperatures reached 43 degrees, conditions on and off track were difficult for the drivers and team members.

But impeccable pit crew work and the team’s strategy of only single-stinting its drivers paid dividends and allowed Watts, Jonny Kane and team-owner, Nick Leventis the chance to stand on the podium at the end of the race.

Racing against the might of manufacturer entrants, Audi and Toyota, the Strakka Racing team knew that the race was going to be far from easy. However, a determined strategy allowed them to be in contention right from the start and run at the front of the Privateers’ section as well.

Kane started the team’s HPD car from row three and ran a strong 26-lap opening stint before handing the car over to Leventis.

A small delay at the next stop lost the team ground, but as darkness descended on the race, Watts was at the top of his game as he moved the car into the lead.

An incident later in the race, while Kane was at the wheel, with the then third-placed Toyota resulted in a unscheduled pit-stop for Strakka to replace a puncture, but small handling problems did not stop the car continuing at pace. For the Toyota though, the incident put paid to further participation in the race.

Watts was left with the job of bringing the Strakka car home and across the finish-line to record a memorable result – the first Privateer team to stand on the overall podium in a round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Afterwards, Watts said: “It’s a fantastic achievement to finish third overall, but of course we weren’t really racing the works Audis and Toyota and we were very focused on trying to win the Privateers’ battle.

“We’re a small team, all the guys put in a huge amount of work to make sure the car is fast and reliable and the conditions this week have been extremely difficult, not just for the drivers, but also for all the team members working on the car.

“They deserve all the credit for this race result and it will give us the confidence 
to go to Japan knowing exactly what dedication and hard work can actually achieve.”

Nick Leventis added: “Our strategy of single-stinting certainly gave us the edge today and our car ran perfectly.

“It’s been an incredible team effort and I’m immensely proud of every member of the team for all their hard work in achieving this result.”