Strakka Racing today sealed its first 24 Hours of Spa podium finish, with the 70th edition of the world’s leading 24-hour GT race taking place this weekend at the iconic 7.004km Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. It marks the second podium of the season for the ProAm crew and the result at the legendary race elevates Strakka Racing to second in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup ProAm Teams Championship.
With over 200 drivers and 63 cars, the race is one of the most fearsome and revered in the world, and Strakka Racing fielded three Mercedes-AMG GT3 racers for the event, which was as action packed as expected. Strakka’s #42 ProAm entry featuring Nick Levents, Chris Buncombe, Lewis Williamson and David Fumanelli finished on the podium, second in class, and the highest ranked ProAm Mercedes entry, while the #43 Pro car entry of Maxi Buhk, Maxi Götz and Alvaro Parente finished in 11th overall, just missing out on a points scoring position. The #44 Pro entry was forced to retire before the seven hour mark with a technical issue.
Car #42 (Pro-Am, Strakka Racing) – P2 in ProAm Class, P17 overall
The Pro-Am line-up of Nick Leventis, Chris Buncombe, Lewis Williamson and David Fumanelli qualified fifth in class during Thursday evening’s qualifying session, and lined up 41st overall on the grid for the 70th edition of the 24 Hours of Spa. After a strong team performance, the squad was leading the Pro-Am class just after the four-hour mark, and still led at the quarter distance and half distance, scoring 24 Pro-Am team championship points for positioning at the two key markers of the race. In the second half of the race, the squad played a cat and mouse game with the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari, with the pair switching first and second positions several times as the fight for class glory intensified. Ultimately, despite pushing hard to the very end, class victory was just out of reach and so the #42 came home in second place; still an incredible achievement on the team’s first Spa 24 Hours as a Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing team and Strakka’s first Spa 24h podium.
Car #43 (Pro, Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing) – P10 overall
The trio of Maxi Buhk, Maxi Götz and Alvaro Parente undertook driving duties for the #43. It was a challenging qualifying and the team was disappointed to miss out on Super Pole, with the #43 having to settle for a 29th place starting slot. They were able to make good progress in the race, moving up to 15th spot by just after the quarter distance, maintained steady pace and positioning through the hours of darkness and ran as high as a tenth during the last two hours of the race. Thanks to a strong race-long team performance which saw Maxi, Maxi and Alvaro gain 18 places over the 24 hours, the team had to settle for a 11th place finish, just missing out on a points scoring position.
Car #44 (Pro, Strakka Racing) – DNF
11-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner Rubens Barrichello made his Strakka Racing debut this weekend alongside Felipe Fraga and Christian Vietoris in the Pro class #44 car. After starting the race from 34th position, the #44 crew advanced well and were in P21 two and a half hours in. However, shortly after, Christian Vietoris had to pit for the crew to work on a technical issue with the suspension, with the car only back out on track over an hour later. Despite the three drivers battling valiantly and working to gain ground once the car was back out on track, the team was forced to retire the #44 6hrs and 45mins into the race.
Nick Leventis, #42: “It’s really good to get the ProAm podium. We didn’t have the pace unfortunately to fight for the overall win as the Ferrari was quite a bit quicker so, all things considered, we did the best job we could and to get two cars to the finish and get the podium in ProAm is really encouraging. It was unfortunate for car #44. It was a pleasure to have Rubens with us and together with Felipe and Christian they did a fantastic job all week and I’m sorry for them that we had car issues. We love competing at big events. We spent many years at Le Mans and this race is on a par with it in terms of the team effort that needs to be put in to get a result so we’re very happy.”
Maxi Götz, #43: “This is such a long race that one of the most important things is to stay out of trouble and we did that well. We maybe made a couple of pitstop calls at the wrong time and got unlucky with a Full Course Yellow period but generally we did what we needed to do well. The pace wasn’t good enough to be further ahead; in the first sector particularly we were losing quite a lot of time compared to the rest. But from a performance perspective from the team and drivers it was a solid job.”
Jay Davenport, Strakka Racing Director: “We are thrilled with the podium finish for the #42; it’s a great reward after an incredible amount of hard work and the performance over the whole 24 hours from that car has helped move us up in the order in the Endurance Cup standings. The boys in the #43 also did a fantastic job and were consistently strong throughout the race. The only disappointment is not to get any points out of it, but we nonetheless leave Spa with a great amount of data and experience from that car. It was very disappointing to lose the #44 so early on and we need to do investigate after the race why we had the technical issues that we did. This is the toughest race we do in a season and the whole team did a fantastic job. We had a lot of things thrown at us across the three cars over 24 hours and the team reacted and performed brilliantly. There was consistent excellent pitstop work, including our fastest ever tyre change. We’ll now carry the momentum of this fantastic result into the next Intercontinental GT Challenge race at Suzuka and the final round of the Endurance Cup in Barcelona.”
The Total 24 Hours of Spa is the penultimate round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and also forms an event in the Intercontinental GT Challenge calendar. Heading into this round Strakka Racing were 5th in the team’s Endurance Cup and leave Spa having moved up to second in the standings with 87 points. The final round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup will take place 28-30 September at Circuit de Catalunya, Spain.
Source. revolution-communications/Photo. SRO Motorsports Group