Strakka Racing enjoyed celebrations at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca as it rounded off a successful 2018 race season in style at the California 8 Hours, the finale of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge, with a race victory in the ProAm class.
After a season in which the squad competed in both the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and the Intercontinental GT Challenge, during which time the team secured four second-place podium places in the Pro and Pro-Am categories, a victory in 2018 as a brand-new Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing team had yet to be realised.
All that changed today at Laguna Seca, when the ProAm trio of Nick Leventis, David Fumanelli and Felipe Fraga took a commanding class win in the #42. The result also comes just a few weeks after Nick Leventis, Chris Buncombe and Lewis Williamson were crowned Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup ProAm Drivers’ Champions.
In the Pro class, the #43 finished in seventh position, while the #44 took the chequered flag in ninth.
Car #42 (Pro-Am, Strakka Racing) – P1 in ProAm class
Nick Leventis, David Fumanelli, Felipe Fraga
The #42 looked good from the outset, with the Leventis/Fumanelli/Fraga crew setting provisional ProAm pole in qualifying, then securing second in class after the Super Pole session. Maintaining position after the start of the race and for the opening stint, the turning point came at the 1hr 15min mark when Fumanelli took the class lead for the #42. From thereon in the trio were unchallenged for their position at the top of the ProAm standings and passed the chequered flag after eight hours to take Strakka’s first race win of 2018, and the first with Mercedes-AMG.
Car #43 (Pro, Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing) – P7
Raffaele Marciello, Max Goetz, Lewis Williamson
The #43 was strong straight out of the box, taking provisional pole position on Saturday and then, in Super Pole, securing a front row start from second in the race. Championship contender Marciello started the race for the #43 crew and, 50 minutes into the first stint, overtook the #29 Audi for the lead of the race. After leading up until the half way point, the #43 had some fierce on track battles and position switches with the #8 Bentley, but was on top again until the six-hour mark when a safety car and pitstop period shook up the order, putting them in fifth. Despite battling hard to the bitter end and showing impressive pace, the #43 suffered a puncture 20 minutes before the end of the race and had to settle for seventh.
Car #44 (Pro, Strakka Racing) – P9
Christian Vietoris, Adrien Tambay, Jack Hawksworth
This #44 showed good pace throughout the week and secured provisional third on the grid in qualifying, before setting the ninth fastest time in Super Pole for a fifth-row start. The opening stint went well, with the crew moving up to sixth place on the opening lap. Unfortunately, Hawksworth was forced into the pits in the second hour for body repair after he was hit under a Full Course Yellow, emerging after his stop in 14th. The crew recovered well, moving back into the top ten by the three-hour mark. The #44 took the chequered flag in ninth.
Nick Leventis, Strakka Racing Founder and Car #42 Driver: “I’m very happy for the whole of Strakka Racing to get the ProAm win. It was a pretty uneventful race for the #42; we just stayed out of trouble and kept it clean and brought it home in P1. It was an unlucky race for the Pro guys. We had an incident with the #44 under the safety car, which cost us potentially a very good result, and we were in the fight for the overall win with the #43 for most of the race and we were a bit unlucky, but that’s racing sometimes. It marred what could have been a double victory for the team but we are very happy to have the victory in ProAm and the Pro guys did a top job and should be proud of themselves. We go into the off-season knowing we’ve had a great first season with Mercedes-AMG. We’re really happy with the partnership and we look forward to bringing the cars out again at Bathurst.”
Jay Davenport, Strakka Racing Director: “I’m extremely proud of the whole team and what has been achieved this year. In our first season with Mercedes-AMG, we have already shown we can compete at the top and this has been realised today with our first class victory of the year with the #42 ProAm. We’ve been very close on a number of occasions, but to seal the deal here and end the season on a high is just fantastic. There is a feeling of disappointment that we couldn’t get a podium with the #43 here as it was looking very good for most of the race until a safety car during a pitstop window affected the order. That has also meant that Mercedes just missed out on the Manufacturer’s championship this year, which is a real shame. But I know we will be back bigger and better next season, determined to achieve more. Everyone played a key part this week, from the drivers of the #42, #43 and #44 to all the members of the team. We’ll enjoy ending the year on a high and then get back to work preparing for 2019.”
Source. Revolution communications/Photo. SRO Motorsports Group