Strakka Racing wrapped up its first Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup as a Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing team with Nick Leventis, Lewis Williamson and Chris Buncombe taking overall championship victory in the Pro-Am fight. The final race of the season took place today, the Barcelona 3 Hours, with Strakka fielding its three Mercedes-AMG GT3’s as part of a 52-car strong grid.
After a strong first season partnered with the German marque, Strakka Racing notched up three podiums between the #42 and #43 entries. Highlights came at the prestigious Spa 24 Hours when the #42 took second place in the Pro-Am championship, another second place at its home race at Silverstone and second place honours at the Monza 3 Hours with the #43 car.
The Pro-Am team’s runner-up accolade was the culmination of a season during which they improved their results steadily and were consistently in the top four in class in four of the five races. They opened with a fourth place at Paul Ricard, finished in the same position at Monza, then scored back-to-back podiums in Silverstone and Spa with a brace of second places. Despite a challenging day in Barcelona, previous results plus Pole and a points-scoring finish today sealed the title for Leventis, Buncombe and Williamson.
Strakka Racing will compete its last race for this year at the Intercontinental GT Challenge finale, the Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hours, on 28 October 2018
Car #42 (Pro-Am, Strakka Racing) – P8 in ProAm class – CHAMPIONS
Chris Buncombe, Nick Leventis, Lewis Williamson
Race day started perfectly for the #42 Pro-Am trio after they secured the Pro-Am Pole Position in qualifying, which also secured them a bonus championship point for pole. Unfortunately, the opportunity of clinching the Pro-Am Teams title was dashed when the team encountered a number of problems. In the second stint, Leventis was hit on track which forced him into the pits for repairs and then Williamson was hit with a drive through penalty for a Full Course Yellow infringement in the final stint. A valiant fight saw the team come through after 92 laps to finish eighth in class, securing four points and sealing the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Pro-Am Drivers title.
Car #44 (Pro, Strakka Racing) – P7
Felipe Fraga, Christian Vietoris, Oliver Rowland
The #44 showed its best outright qualifying pace of the season today. Felipe Fraga put the GT3 on provisional pole after Q1, with the squad eventually settling for a second row start from fourth once all three qualifying sessions were complete – the #44’s best grid positioning of the season. Fraga, who drove the first stint, fell to seventh after he was hit on the opening lap but the team fought hard over the three hours to compete in the top ten for a points scoring position. Rowland, driving in the final stint, brought the car home seventh, collecting six championship points.
Car #43 (Pro, Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing) – P17
Maxi Buhk, Alvaro Parente, Max Götz
The #43 crew equalled their best qualifying result of the year when they started today’s race from 5th position, the same place they secured in Monza earlier in the season. The squad ran as high as fourth during the three hour race and were maintaining position well until Parente had nowhere to go in the second stint, clipping a spinning McLaren and losing several positions. The problems then continued, with Götz handed a 60s stop and go penalty in the final stint and finally crossing the line in 17th.
Nick Leventis, Strakka Racing Founder and Car #42 Driver:: “I’ve got mixed emotions today. I’m obviously very, very happy to win the championship but a bit disappointed with the race result. We were looking strong all weekend and then some unavoidable contact in the race meant that we didn’t quite get the result we were looking for. The championship win is testament to the whole team at Strakka Racing and our partners Mercedes-AMG. I think we’ve done a solid job all year, our first year with Mercedes, and we’re really looking forward to future years of success with them. I’m also a bit disappointed with the Pro cars results; there’s definitely work to be done but we are well aware of that. For sure we will be back next year and looking to be quickest in all classes.”
Jay Davenport, Strakka Racing Director: “Although we are absolutely delighted to have clinched the Pro-Am Driver’s title, it’s been a disappointing race here in Barcelona and that has made our overall championship result bittersweet as there was the potential to achieve so much more. Our pace was looking strong all weekend but then there were some incidents during the race out of our control which negatively impacted both the #42 and #43. We were very much in the hunt for the Pro-Am Team’s title today until Nick was hit out on track and we had to bring the car in for repairs. The #44 has had mega pace all day and it’s a shame we were not able to convert that into a possible podium position. Considering it is our first year as a Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing team, we can be proud of the achievement of three podiums and the Pro-Am Driver’s title and we’ll be back for 2019 in the hunt for more.”