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Williamson: “It’s About Grabbing the Opportunities That Arise”

Lewis Williamson on his endurance racing debut with Strakka Racing…

Photo: Strakka Racing

Photo: Strakka Racing

There will be a new look to the Strakka Racing lineup for this weekend’s Six Hours of Nürburgring, as Lewis Williamson takes to the wheel of the No. 42 Gibson 015S Nissan.

The Silverstone-based squad is known for its long-time driver trio of Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane, but for the German round of the FIA World Endurance Championship season, Williamson will take Watts’ place in the car.

I was in the garden when I got the phone call and chance to drive in the World Endurance Championship, and it was a bit of a shock so I didn’t know what to say at the time!” the young Scot told Sportscar365.

It will be Williamson’s first WEC race, but he isn’t new to the team. He’s already raced under the Strakka banner in the Renault Sport Trophy so far this season. Moreover, he has been with the team at two WEC races this year.

“Nick [Leventis] and I have been working close together since the start of the season, with testing, training and racing together in the Renault R.S. 01,” he said.

“We’ve got quite a close relationship and I’m so grateful for the opportunity he’s given me to let me come to all the races this year.

“It’s a different bunch of guys on the sports car than with the R.S. 01, although they all work under the same roof. All the guys in the team know the role they’ve got to do, and they have a very high standard of work.

“They’ve done a phenomenal job and they’re showing the car can be consistent and I think we’re in a better place now with [the Gibson Nissan]. I haven’t driven it this year, but from driving it last year at the Rookie Test at Bahrain, it’s come a long way since then.”

From karting, Williamson got his first taste of open wheel racing in 2008 and progressed through the ranks until he put his racing career to one side in 2013.

He returned to the wheel this year with the Renault Sport Trophy program, making a sure switch from single seaters to sports car racing.

“For me, it’s always about grabbing the opportunities that arise, making the most of it and giving it 100 percent both off track and on track, to help that program,” he said. “On the build-up to Nürburgring, I’m doing as much as I can to make sure that I’m fully up to speed.

“It’s not just about trying to drive the car fastest, but there are a lot of other things that come into play such as the all the procedures you’ve got to know, or the driver changes. You’ve got to be a team player and tick all the boxes.”

As a team considering a move up to LMP1 in the coming years, Strakka is certainly an outfit that looks ahead to the future.

While its Leventis-Kane-Watts lineup has remained fairly constant in recent seasons, the signing of Williamson shows that the Dan Walmsley-led squad is looking ahead to the future, and evaluating different options.

Williamson is keen to take this opportunity to prove himself in the LMP2 car, and to reignite his racing career.

“I think that’s the aim, to give young drivers like myself the opportunity to show their worth,” he said. “They do get a chance and these things don’t come around a second time, I know that from the past. You’ve got to make the most of it.

“For me, not coming from a wealthy background, it’s good to have the opportunity. I’ve come with no backing, no sponsors, nothing.

“The last few years I’ve been out of racing but I’ve understood what I need to do to stay involved, with a bit of coaching here and there, and working closely this year with Strakka.

“The possibility is there and you’ve just got to think outside the box and make it happen. Doing this gives other people hope that even if they’re not massively funded, there is still chance.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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