To those who know Le Mans, they know the intangible "Spirit of Le Mans" that permeates the event. A special drive to succeed, to overcome any obstacle in pursuit of finishing the 24 hours. Drayson Racing personified "The Spirit of Le Mans" at this weekend's 24 Heures du Mans. Despite a myriad of obstacles put in front of them, the team behind the No. 11 Drayson Racing Lola Coupé with Judd Power never wavered in its commitment to see the chequered flag at the conclusion of the 12-13 June classic. It was a determination rewarded by finishing as the sixth highest Le Mans Prototype One (LMP1) with the trio of drivers: Paul Drayson (London and Gloucestershire, UK), Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) and Emanuele Pirro (Rome).

From the start the team seemed to be challenged at every turn. Wednesday's first qualifying session ended with a precautionary engine change. Forced to use its race engine in all the remaining sessions, the engine swap would limit the laps available for practice and qualifying and everything that followed. The change meant that the team had only 20 laps to find the setup and qualify without jeopardising the life of the Judd V10 powerplant. Despite that, Jonny Cocker was still able to run a qualifying lap quick enough for 14th on the 55-car grid. In a race that would see much attrition, the No. 11 faced its own adversity but, unlike others, was able to overcome multiple, often intertwined, issues to better all but five cars in its class.

Within the first 30 minutes of the world's most famous endurance race, it was as if the next 24 hours was charted as the initial chronic problem, a degenerating vibration, began to show its head. The Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA) managed organisation was able to continuously put the issues behind them; fighting throughout the day and night, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) regulars were able to overcome 17 separate issues over the course of the famous 24 hour race. With its longest stop nearly three hours, the Drayson crew, tired from two weeks of preparation and travel from the ALMS event in Monterey, California never waivered. They held true to the "Spirit of Le Mans" and showed their true passion for this event. Overcoming the seemingly relentless adversity at every turn.

Working closely with technical partners Michelin Tyres, Lola Cars and Judd Engines, the Drayson Racing team was able to better its career performance of the Lola closed-cockpit B06/09 today. They also bettered their 2009 debut at Le Mans in the GT2 class by reaching the full 24 hour race distance. Their rookie year ended with the car stopped at the Mulsanne Corner with just two hours remaining. This year, Paul Drayson, who also started the event and took part in the ceremonial "Le Mans Running Start", was able to see the chequered flag fly over his prototype; his team cheering from the pit wall.


Elspeth, Lady Drayson - Owner/CEO:
"It was an incredibly emotional experience; my heart was in my mouth for the whole 24 hours. One minute it looked like it was all over, the next one dared to hope we would make it. At times the car was very quick but then the gremlins would strike again! Through it all the team never gave up. I am very proud of them!"

Paul Drayson - Owner/Driver:
"I am so happy to finish Le Mans 24 hours. It was an incredibly tough race, but the team fought and fought to keep going and when I saw the chequered flag I was crying and laughing and shouting at the same time I was so elated and relieved. I am very proud of my team's true grit and never say die attitude."

Jonny Cocker - Driver:
"Certainly not a simple race by any means. We had more than our fair share of problems. Everything was tested in the absolute morale of the team. No one ever dropped their heads even when it looked to be terminal. It is proven by the amount of cars that didn't finish this race that for any team, no matter who you are or what your budget is, it is an extremely tough race to finish. As a small, family run, privateer team, it is a huge achievement to finish and no one should underestimate that. That is why everyone is happy with this win. Bearing in mind all of the problems we had and what we had to overcome it feels like a win. Absolutely fantastic effort by everyone involved and a well deserved finish. I am looking forward to coming back next year."

Emanuele Pirro - Driver:
"It has been an eventful race. It has been an extremely hard weekend for the whole team and the positive thing is that we were able to cross the finish line. We made some setup changes in the car that we would have liked to have made in practice but we had no time. I would like to thank the whole team for the extremely long hours they have done throughout the week. I am sorry that the result was not equal to their effort because we would have been the winner if it had. I felt a great pleasure being back in Le Mans with the prototype and it has been really a lot of fun."

Dale White - Team Manager:
"I could not be any prouder of a group of people than I am of the Drayson Racing crew. This team pulled together to help each other overcome a massive work schedule all week and then non-stop work on the car throughout the race. I don't think I have ever been a part of an event that took more out of you mentally and physically than this race. Our crew never snapped; they never broke. They just kept addressing problems as they came in. You can't teach that! My congratulations to Paul and Elspeth for taking the chequered flag and for giving me a chance to be a part of this operation."

All pictures courtesy of Jakob Ebrey