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Strakka Confirms Switch to Blancpain GT With Four-Car McLaren Effort

Strakka Racing confirms four-car Blancpain GT effort with McLaren GT…

Photo: Strakka Racing

Photo: Strakka Racing

Strakka Racing announced Tuesday that it will make the switch to the Blancpain GT Series next year, with a minimum four-car effort fielding McLaren 650S GT3 cars.

The British team, which has spent the last eight years in prototype racing, most recently in the FIA World Endurance Championship, will return to the GT ranks under its new partnership with McLaren GT, as first revealed by Sportscar365 last month.

One of the four cars will feature 2017 McLaren GT Academy drivers, as part of its new long-term deal with the manufacturer.

“Creating this partnership with such an esteemed brand as McLaren is, for me, the most exciting chapter and proud moment in Strakka’s ten-year history,” said team founder Nick Leventis.

“We are now working with one of the most successful and prestigious GT3 manufacturers with a commitment to build a long term future together.”

McLaren GT Managing Director Andrew Kirkaldy added: “[Strakka] has demonstrated its ambition from the outset with its hunger to win in one of the world’s toughest-contested championships such as the Blancpain GT Series, which is exactly what we hope for when approached by new customers.”

Driver lineups for Strakka’s cars will be confirmed following a series of track tests later this year.

“We aim to test a range of drivers including giving young talent an opportunity to show what they can do,” team principal Dan Walmsley said. “We’d like to offer a number of junior single seater drivers the opportunity to try a GT3 car and understand the potential it provides for a career.

“You’ve seen how effective Lewis Williamson has been making the switch to sports cars and he is revealing in the new challenge.

“We also want experienced drivers in the team, not only for performance but also as a benchmark for the Academy Drivers to work towards. Jonny Kane is driving better than ever and still one of the fastest guys in LMP2.”

While being exclusively in GT3 racing for next year, the team hasn’t ruled out a return to the WEC in the future.

Strakka had been one of the handful of teams evaluating a LMP1 Privateer program around the ACO’s revised regulations that were announced at Le Mans in June.

“The regs came too late to get a P1L car ready for 2017 and to stay in the championship next year would have meant acquiring a P2 car,” Walmsley said. “It is a fantastic championship so expect to see us back racing there again.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Nevil-Clavain

    November 8, 2016 at 6:55 am

    Yet another WEC team bites the dust! This championship to go down in flames, as it should. Collapse of LMP1H, LMP1L, GTE Pro AND GTE Am. Awesome!!!!!

    • Nevil-Clavain

      November 8, 2016 at 6:56 am

      Don’t forget spec LMP2 with spec tires spec engines spec everything only 4 brands but even more expensive than 2016!!!!!

      • GarretHayg

        November 8, 2016 at 7:15 am

        Nothing about 2017 LMP2 is spec other than the engine. You can argue about the merits of limiting constructors to four. At the weekend there were three constructors on track, using one engine configuration.

      • morningview66

        November 8, 2016 at 8:28 am

        Whats wrong with you man!

        I can only assume that your trolling here, but we should really be supporting these series unless you would rather be watching the Kardasians on your sofa.

        The WEC is a great series, granted LMP1 is insome trouble and needs a rethink, but LMP2 is fairly stable platform and GTE looks set to increase.

        The interesting thing is the split in GT racig between GTE and GT3 both with big manufacturer efforts. Do you race at Le Mans as an undercard of a world championship, or do you have the change for overall wins at something that would become a world championship (in the case of Blancpain).

        Will the GT convergence topic come back up again.

    • GarretHayg

      November 8, 2016 at 7:10 am

      Good grief. The ignorance on display is quite something. You clearly have no idea of the maneuvering, new and extended programs for next season.

      Thats quite aside from the bizarre hatred you have for a bunch of cars going around a track.

    • Jason

      November 8, 2016 at 7:18 am

      This is awesome! The Strakka McLaren fleet. I for one enjoy Blancpain GT much more than FIA WEC.

      A big shot in the arm of SRO. I was getting worried that 2017 could start to see a drop in car counts with the rise of LMP3

      • Tarek R

        November 8, 2016 at 9:19 am

        LMP3 will never kill GT3. The very experienced and factory backed teams like WRT, Phoenix, AF Corse, Black Falcon, HTP Motorsport…will be staying in GT3 for a long time.

        • GR88

          November 8, 2016 at 10:36 am

          Those are the very top of the line, factory supported, GT3 teams. The switch to LMP3 & GT4 is happening at national level in Britain, France, Italy etc.

        • Avery

          November 8, 2016 at 1:23 pm

          You forgot about M-Sport.

  2. morningview66

    November 8, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Im also interested to know if the Strakka team is replacing the Garage 59 effort as the ‘official’ McLaren team in the series.

    Garage 59 was to all intents and purposes an in house factory team I believe. So will Strakka now take that place?

    • StueyB83

      November 8, 2016 at 7:41 pm

      I think this is very likely.

      McLaren won’t have enough funding (and factory drivers) for both this and a factory team. I think it will done in the same way as Von-Ryan arrangements of years past – however factory knowledge of the car has come a fair way since then so the car should remain at the front.

  3. 7D3

    November 8, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Pretty soon we’ll have to merge the WEC and ELMS like Le Mans if more WEC teams leave.

    Best of luck to Strakka with McLaren and hope they enter the GT3 Le Mans Cup.

    • GR88

      November 8, 2016 at 11:57 am

      ELMS is set to comfortably exceed its 40 car limit, hence the inclusion of LMP3 in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. LMP2 is expected to hit circa. 15 entries. The final number dependent on whether teams such as TDS and Eurasia move to the WEC.

      In the WEC, there are a number of yet to be announced entrants and existing teams hoping to double up A number of these are in LMP2, the strong Dallara links with single-seater teams being a major factor. There will also been some class switches, the current GTE-Am leaders for example moving to LMP2.

    • StueyB83

      November 8, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      While that could be a sound reason as to why the move and deal went down (potential to run a GTE McLaren team should a car re-emerge) – the GT3 Le Mans cup is for Amateur drivers and Strakka’s immediate plans do not sound as though they will have many of those!

  4. Justin Porter

    November 8, 2016 at 9:15 am

    McLaren has needed a second “power” team in Blancpain to back Garage 59, as often it felt like the bulk of the McLaren fleet is in regional championships while the assorted German brands consolidate their top teams in Blancpain.

    I still really wish the Dome had worked out, but that’s just because I love Dome prototypes, idiosyncrasies and all.

    • NASCAR/DPs Suck

      November 8, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      I’m a huge fan of the Dome prototypes as well. They always seemed to be one or two pieces away from being truly competitive despite their innovative features.

  5. WBrowning

    November 8, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Looking forward to the McLaren GT3 cars coming to IMSA soon. GT racing is going to be getting more and more competitive with all these different manufacturers getting involved, and that is great.

    LMP1 is dying, I wish the FIA would go more towards the DPI/LMP2 route and get more manufacturers involved there too. A spec class is fine, but when P1 dies and P2 cars are winning overall, Porsche, Toyota, Ferrari, Ford and others I’m sure would like to get their engines in those cars and get the glory.

    • StueyB83

      November 8, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      The funny thing is, LMP1 was (as early as the start of last year) seen as growing – but Nissan came and went and the Diesel-gate scandal happened.

      I don’t know if we will ever see Le Mans’ tier 1 classes competed in as heavily by manufacturers as it was in the mid 90’s to early 00’s

  6. Jonathan

    November 8, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Reading the article about the amount of support Strakka is getting from McLaren next year. Will Strakka become a McLaren GTE team if they return to WEC?

    That’s if McLaren pulls the trigger on a GTE program.

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