Strakka Racing claimed a fifth-place finish in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at the team’s home race of Silverstone on 12 May 2019. Outstanding drives from Dev Gore, Lewis Williamson and Jack Hawksworth meant the Northamptonshire-based outfit climbed an incredible 36 places during the course of the three-hour race following a 41st-place start. On the penultimate lap, the #43 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was running in third and set for a podium finish but contact in the battle for the chequered flag cost the team two places.
Hawksworth demonstrated the pace of the #43 Mercedes-AMG GT3 early in the weekend, setting the sixth fastest time in Saturday’s Free Practice session, with the team utilising Pre-Qualifying to refine its set-up ahead of the all-important Qualifying session. However, Sunday morning’s Q1 was heavily disrupted with two red flags working against the strategies of many top teams, including Strakka, and meant Hawksworth was unable to complete a representative lap and log a time. Gore and Williamson both set strong lap times, placing the team 12th and ninth on the timing sheets in Q2 and Q3 respectively. However, the average of all three Qualifying sessions meant that despite their best efforts the #43 entry would start 41st on the grid.
Gore took the wheel of the #43 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to start the race, which was eventful from the very beginning. He managed to weave through a multi-car incident on the first lap unscathed, climbing to 35th before the safety car was deployed. The race ran behind the safety car for the first 20 minutes with Gore then making outstanding forward progress during the remainder of his one-hour stint. The American driver had just entered the top 20 when the first pit window opened, with the team making strategic use of a Full Course Yellow to change over to Williamson.
Saving valuable time during the pit-stop meant Williamson was running in P12 when the order settled, having climbed 29 places since the start. Williamson proceeded to pick off further opponents in the highly-competitive field to be running in eighth when another Full Course Yellow was called. At the restart he improved a further two places before the second pit window opened and he took advantage of a clear track to decrease the deficit..
With just under an hour remaining, a further well-timed pit-stop put Hawksworth into third as he took over driving duties of the #43 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the final stint. With the two front-runners battling for position, Hawksworth put in a purposeful drive to close the gap, with his sights firmly set on a podium finish. However, the #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Lamborghini was gaining ground behind. Hawksworth defended hard for several laps, but on the penultimate lap Marco Mapelli went for a gap and there was contact between the two cars, sending Hawksworth into a spin. Recovering quickly, he was running in sixth and was able to regain a place from the #563, which had suffered damage in the contact, to cross the finish line in fifth, an improvement of 36 places.
Dev Gore: “What an amazing race! It’s the second in a row that we’ve come back from odds that were stacked up against us and ended up fighting for podiums. It’s really confidence inspiring to know that we can be in the fight no matter where we start. But sometimes things just don’t line up and this was one of those weekends. I’m incredibly proud of the team: the car was so strong to be running the times we were with the damage we’d sustained. The third stint really was unbelievable. I have full confidence that we’ll get our podiums and our race wins: we’ll be back stronger than ever at Paul Ricard.”
Jay Davenport, Strakka Racing Director: “To finish fifth from our starting position is an incredible achievement, so huge thanks go to the entire team for knuckling down, taking on the challenge and fighting hard to get up through the field; Dev, Lewis and Jack gave it their all. Getting a podium finish would have been a dream and a fitting reward for their efforts but that wasn’t to be this weekend. However, we showed we had the pace and determination to come from the back so we’re confident that even higher results will come.”
The next round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, the Circuit Paul Ricard 1,000km takes place in the south of France on 31 May – 1 June 2019.
Source. Revolution Communications/Photo. The Editor