Electrical issue forces early retirement for Strakka in Austin
Despite valiant attempts in searing heat, Strakka Racing saw the opportunity to score significant points fade in the Austin sunshine after a persistent electrical problem led the team to retire. The Silverstone team started the weekend at The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas maintaining the stronger qualifying form that has provided the basis for a stream of fourth place race finishes since Le Mans.
In the US, drivers Lewis Williamson and Jonny Kane secured fourth on the grid and felt there was even better to come in the race. “We experienced a real variation in how the car performed on the two different sets of tyres, so we know we could have gone better,” says team principal Dan Walmsley. “Our qualifying performance has come so far that we are no longer satisfied if we are out of the top three.”
Williamson drove the opening stint, marking the first time he had started a WEC race. In a bid to avoid contact, Williamson stayed wide at Turn One, slipping to sixth but surviving unscathed. With heat sapping power from the engine, it was a difficult stint for the Scot. “We were all over the back of the ESM car, trying to find any way past but it just pulled away on the straights and we couldn’t get a run on them,” says Williamson.
After 45 minutes, Williamson handed the car to Jonny Kane who once again drove superbly to catch and pass the SMP car of Nicolas Minassian for fifth before the issues started. A chain of events, initiated by an additional pitstop for a puncture in the right rear, subsequently caused issues with the Gibson’s electrical system getting too hot, resulting ultimately in the team retiring the car.
Strakka’s mechanics worked tirelessly in hot and uncomfortable conditions to get the car back out on track, changing a number of components including an ECU before the car returned to the track. After just four laps the car was back in the garage. This time the starter motor was changed and with just over two hours to go and keen to get back racing Kane returned back on track but issues with the electrical system remained and regretfully the team was out of the event.
“It’s immensely frustrating to not get a finish after all the hard work our guys put into hauling the car back out,” adds driver Nick Leventis. “It’s hot, humidity was over 50 percent and the guys sweated away in their fireproof overalls to get us out on track but this was an issue we couldn’t control. They did a fantastic job and I’m proud we have such a determined crew.”
The team that lies sixth in the championship, now focusses on the next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship that takes place at Fuji in Japan on 16th October.