Strakka Racing is targeting podiums and class wins following its switch to a Gibson 015S Nissan for the remainder of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
The British squad debuted the ex-Greaves Motorsport prototype during a two-day open test this week at the Nürburgring, which saw veteran pilot Jonny Kane lead the way in competitive LMP2 ranks.
“Topping the time charts at the Nürburgring was a great feeling,” team principal Dan Walmsley told Sportscar365.
“We all know, in testing, people are running different programs and different fuel loads. But nevertheless, to be at the sharp end again is a really nice place for the team to be.”
While having started the season with its Dome S103 Nissan, Strakka announced earlier this month it would park the Japanese-designed prototype in order to use it for development of the team’s all-new LMP1 car for 2017.
The move to the Gibson marks a return of sorts, as Strakka campaigned a Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S in the 2009 European Le Mans Series, a LMP1 car that shares lineage of the cost-capped P2 machine formerly known as a Zytek.
Kane and co-drivers Nick Leventis and Danny Watts all got their first laps in anger with the car on Monday and Tuesday, following a brief shakedown at the Turweston Airfield in England.
“The engineering team ran through setup options to try and understand what the car’s sensitive to and what the nuances may be,” Walmsley said of the Nürburgring test.
“But to be honest, we hit the ground running. The car was quick straight out of the box and we had very few issues to complain of from the test.
“There were a few niggles from bits and pieces of the car being put together very quickly but nonetheless, it’s a great package.
“We’ve enjoyed getting to know the car again and hopefully can have a good tail end of 2015 in the World Endurance Championship.”
Given the encouraging early pace, with the 2014 Le Mans class-winning chassis, Walmsley is bullish about their chances for the remainder of the season.
“The targets have to be regular podiums,” he said. “We want race wins in P2.
“I think we learned a big lesson from not racing the tail half of 2013, when we withdrew the HPD because we were investing in the new [LMP2] project, but also the delays to the Dome meant we came back rusty this year.
“We’re really keen to keep racing, keep the drivers sharp and the pit crew sharp. All the time you can be learning things that may help the development of the P1 car.
“We’re really excited to be hopefully competing with the great teams there are in P2 in WEC at the moment.”
Walmsley said it’s their intention to continue with the Gibson-Nissan package in 2016, which will run alongside development of the team’s yet-to-be-named LMP1 car.
“The mood in the camp has been very good,” he added. “It’s been a very tough 18 months for the team with the struggles we had with the car last year.
“It’s been a really positive few weeks for us, with the announcement of the LMP1 project, and secondly having taken on the Gibson LMP2 car, which has enabled us to keep racing whilst we develop the LMP1 car.
“You should never forget the hunger and desire for the guys who work in racing, that it’s as much of a passion for them as it’s a profession. Everyone’s feeling really buoyant about the future.”