Strakka Racing took the Pro-Am class victory with the #43 Mercedes-AMG GT3 trio of Christian Nielsen, Dominik Baumann and Adrian Henry D’Silva at today’s Suzuka 10 Hours, the penultimate round of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge. The team’s #44 Pro car finished ninth overall as Gary Paffett, Tristan Vautier and Lewis Williamson spent the race in recovery mode after Paffett was hit by a competitor car just ten minutes into the endurance event.
Car #43 (Christina Nielsen, Dominik Baumann, Adrian Henry D’Silva) – P1 Pro-Am Class
The crew started fourth of the Pro-Am runners and set about fighting their class battle from the off. Thirty minutes into the ten-hour race, with Nielsen at the wheel, the #43 was up to third in class. After a safety car period with three and a half hours to go, to rescue Nick Cassidy’s stricken Ferrari, the Strakka Racing Pro-Am crew had made their way to second in class. Just after the seven-hour mark, Baumann took the class lead and, from then on, the #43 maintained that lead until the chequered flag, scoring Strakka Racing’s first race victory of the 2019 season.
Christina Nielsen, #43: “I’m really happy with this outcome. It was challenging for everyone because it rained so much in the practice sessions it limited the preparations we had but luckily Strakka did a great job last year so we had a good reference point to begin with and it worked out well. They gave us a great car, Adrian and Dominik drove solid and there were no major mistakes and that’s what put us in contention for the victory and is the key to a good endurance race. A huge thank you to the team and to my co-drivers; together we created a great result.”
Car #44 (Tristan Vautier, Gary Paffett, Lewis Williamson) – P9 overall
Paffett began the race for the trio, after he qualified the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 14th position after making it through to Super Pole. He gained two places on the opening lap but was then hit by a competitor just ten minutes in, knocking him down to 24th and losing a significant amount of time in the process. With the three drivers alternating stints and carving their way through the field, the #44 made up an impressive 13 places to ninth as the race reached the three and a half hour mark. Paffett, Vautier and Williamson fought hard throughout the race to work to recover from the opening incident and crossed the line in front of the enthusiastic fans in ninth.
Tristan Vautier, #44: “We kind of spent the whole day recovering from the Audi that took Gary out at the start, which is a real shame because we definitely had the pace to be in the top five, if not get a podium. Our Mercedes-AMG was amazingly good on tyre degradation and long runs, especially as temperatures started to cool, so it was just a matter of track position. We can be proud as we started the weekend a bit off but kept making progress, so the team has done a very good job. Our strategy and pitstops have been good all day and the driving team was good as always, it’s just a shame we spent the day recovering from someone else’s mistake, but sometimes that’s racing.”
Jay Davenport, Strakka Racing Director: “I’m absolutely thrilled to take our first race victory of the 2019 season here at Suzuka, which is a brilliant event and a fantastic circuit. The whole team have worked so hard this year and this is a great reward after a tough endurance race. I’m also thrilled for Christina, Dominik and Adrian as they all celebrate their first Intercontinental GT Challenge win and I know it’s a special day for them. Once again, we’ve been unfortunate with our Pro car this season. The #44 was looking in great shape for today and, through no fault of our own, we ended up having to recover from very early on. Nevertheless, we have a lot of positives to take from the performance and package and we’ll take that onto Kyalami and aim to end the season on a high.”
Strakka Racing’s will next be in action in the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge for the championship finale in South Africa. The Kyalami 9 Hour will take place on 23 November.