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Strakka Racing aims to ‘takeaway’ points at Shanghai

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With just 12 hours of racing left in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship season, Strakka Racing hopes that by building on its pace from Fuji, the team can claim a top-five spot in the points standings at Shanghai.

Long straights and technical medium-speed sections highlight the 5.4km circuit at Jiading, a venue opened in 2004 at which Strakka Racing has only raced once before – finishing sixth overall in the inaugural WEC season back in 2012.

The points situation in the LMP2 Teams’ Championship is extremely tight with just two rounds remaining. A strong points haul at Shanghai could see eighth-placed Strakka Racing climb as high as fourth in the class with just 11 points separating it and fourth in the standings.

“We’re improving every time we go out with the Gibson,” says driver Jonny Kane. “I think a good result here will give us a lot to fight for when we head to the series’ finale at Bahrain. The whole team is motivated to finish above ESM, Sard and Alpine in the standings and it would be a massive achievement for us to do that after the year we’ve had.”

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One of the newer Hermann Tilke tracks that’s proved to be popular with drivers, the Shanghai International Circuit has hosted the Chinese round of the World Endurance Championship in each of its first four seasons. Its unique layout inspired by the Chinese character Shang (上), the first character in the name of the city Shanghai – has nonetheless proved very tough to master.

“It’s a really tricky track to set up a car for,” adds team principal Dan Walmsley. “The first corner is so tough on the drivers and requires a lot of downforce to get round quickly. Then there’s the lengthy back-straight into its famous hairpin. It’s a prime overtaking spot, but if the drivers misjudge the braking point, it can completely ruin their lap.”

The WEC race weekend at the circuit runs from the 30th of October to the 1st of November, with the race starting at 11am local time on Sunday.

Lone Star Le Mans beckons for Strakka Racing

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After debuting its Gibson 015S chassis at the Nürburgring, Strakka Racing heads to the USA for the start of the fly-away stretch of the WEC season, where it will tackle Circuit of the Americas for the first time.

Strakka Racing travels to Austin, Texas next week, hoping to convert the Gibson’s head-turning pace into a win against its LMP2 rivals. Drivers Jonny Kane, Danny Watts and Nick Leventis will have to get acclimatised to the circuit quickly though, as the trio have no prior experience at the 3.4-mile circuit.

“The simulator work we have done back at base is key for all three of us really,” says Kane. “We knew going into this season that the three of us hadn’t driven at Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) before, so being able to spend extensive time working on learning the track before the event has helped us get ready.

“Our sim enables us to go out at a new circuit, or a circuit we don’t know well and immediately have braking points and lines through corners to build off.”

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Strakka Racing founder Nick Leventis has spent time testing at the circuit before the weekend as extra preparation for the event this weekend, hoping to gain an advantage over the five other COTA rookies in the LMP2 class.

Since opening back in 2012, Circuit of the Americas has held rounds of Moto GP, Formula One, the Tudor United Sports Car Championship and X Games. Popular with drivers for its tricky undulations, COTA makes for some spectacular racing on its mixture of medium and low-speed corners.

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“I can’t wait to get on track,” says driver Danny Watts. “I’ve seen races at the track on TV and have always wanted to tackle that iconic hill leading to Turn 1; it looks steep on screen, so I can’t imagine what it’s like when you’re actually there driving!”

On-track action for the WEC teams runs from the 17th to 19th of September with the race starting 17:00 local time on the Saturday in Austin, Texas.