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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Strakka Aiming for Long-Term Relationship with Mercedes

Strakka Racing Director happy with results after switch from McLaren to Mercedes-AMG…

Photo: Strakka Racing

Strakka Racing Director Jay Davenport says the team’s decision to switch to Mercedes-AMG machinery has paid off and is hopeful of multi-year involvement with the German manufacturer.

The Silverstone-based outfit made the switch to Mercedes after a troublesome season working with McLaren and Garage 59 last year, which failed to bring any major results.

The team is running three cars in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and two in the Intercontinental GT Challenge including one car as a factory-backed entry for the IGTC races.

“We are very privileged to be a Performance Team with [Mercedes-AMG] on the Intercontinental GT Challenge,” Davenport told Sportscar365.

“That’s something we’re very happy with and hopefully, going forwards, we can grow that and become a Performance Team in Blancpain Endurance as well.

“It’s not something they give out very readily to people so to get it in our first year of our relationship with them is extremely good from our side of things and it shows the faith that Mercedes has in Strakka to be able to do a good job for them.

“The customer aspect of Mercedes is very well thought-out and organized, and when we’re on events that we aren’t a Performance Team, we still feel like we get excellent support.”

He explained that the team initially wanted a long-term relationship with a manufacturer but internal problems at McLaren “forced [its] hand a little bit to look elsewhere.”

The issues involved the termination of McLaren’s contract with Andrew Kirkaldy’s CRS GT Ltd. and the manufacturer’s decision to bring its GT racing programs in-house.

“We felt last year that things were going to be difficult moving forwards to be where we wanted to be this year, in terms of support and everything else,” Davenport explained.

“We had some reliability issues that we weren’t happy with at McLaren last year. We looked around at the end of last year at which manufacturer we could work with going forwards and we talked to various people.

“Mercedes seemed to be the best link for us just on how they operate and the potential for working together.

“To get the experience with the cars, even with the help from Mercedes, we’re on a steep learning curve and we’re still learning now as we go through the season.

“We’re seeing this year as a grounding year for ourselves to get the experience with the car and be as competitive as we can. Hopefully the second place at Monza shows that we’re already doing a good job.”

Spa Target to Be “Best Mercedes”

Davenport has made clear targets for this weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa, saying he’s aiming to have the highest-placed Mercedes in the race.

The team’s three-car entry includes a works-supported car for Alvaro Parente and AMG factory drivers Maxi Buhk and Maxi Goetz.

It is one of four ‘Mercedes-AMG Team’ entries, alongside one car each from Black Falcon, AKKA ASP and HTP Motorsport.

“Our objective is to be the best Mercedes car at the event and then the rest will handle itself depending on how the BoP pans out, and who’s competitive and who’s not,” said Davenport.

“Our focus is to do the best job we can with the kit we’ve got.

“Historically, the Mercedes hasn’t always been the quickest on one lap at Spa but it’s a reliable car and it’s consistent with the tires, and over the longer distances the cars always seem to move towards the front.

“We like to think we’re as well prepared as any other team in the paddock so if we can get the car in a place that the drivers are happy with, which we were not doing a bad job of on the test day, then I think we’ve got the caliber of drivers in the cars to get some strong results.”

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

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