Strakka Racing is set for a return to the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2016, while continuing to evaluate the possibility of fielding a second LMP2 entry.
The British squad, which made the post-Le Mans switch to the Gibson 015S Nissan, has been coming to grips with the open-top prototype, in what’s been its first full season of competition since 2012.
While the Danny Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis-driven car has yet to reach the podium in the second half of the season, team principal Dan Walmsley believes they’ve learned valuable lessons that will help prepare them for 2016.
“What we’ve established this year since returning to racing that we were quite ring-rusty, not just in the sense of the drivers having to blow off the cobwebs,” Walmsley told Sportscar365.
“The engineering team running the optimism strategies, the guys in the pit stops.. We were all just a little bit rusty. I’m ever so proud of how hard the team has worked to raise the level back to where we feel Strakka should be.
“What we don’t want to do in 2016 is to lose that momentum. So we’re going to be working exceptionally hard on optimizing everything, the car, pace, tire performance, driver performance, fitness, etc. whilst we work towards a definition of 2017.”
With all three drivers poised to return to the Gibson-Nissan next year, Walmsley said he’s continued to work on the possibility of fielding a second car, should the right program come together.
“It makes a lot of commercial sense to run two cars in WEC,” he said. “As a team we’re not really driven by making profit. But what running two cars brings is economy of scale.
“It’s quite an expensive exercise taking the equipment and spares around the world. So if you can do that with two cars, the amount of equipment you take doesn’t double, it only increases marginally.
“There’s a lot of incentive for us to do that. It also would demonstrate our ability to run two cars on a level playing field. I think that’s important thing as a race team to get straight.”
Should a second car materialize, Strakka could have a pair of open-wheel rising stars to choose from, with the team set to test former McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner Lewis Williamson and Strakka Formula Renault 3.5 driver Tio Ellinas later this month in the official Rookie Test in Bahrain.
“For the Rookie Test, we’ve got Lewis Williamson, who’s been doing a huge amount of work on our Strakka Performance driver development program,” Walmsley said.
“He’s very active on that and helps a lot of these drivers in moving their performance forward. So we really wanted to see how he would get on, but also bring an element of Strakka Performance to our LMP2 program.
“Tio Ellinas was our top points in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship this year. As a reward for that, we wanted to congratulate him and see what he can do in a sports car.
“We genuinely hope that will create opportunities for him, whether that’d be within Strakka or externally going into the future.”