JONNY COCKER'S LE MANS DIARY
“Le Mans was super tough this year but the important thing was that Drayson Racing finished the race and that is something which can’t be underestimated in terms of an achievement for the whole team and our partners. You know, we saw a lot of the factory teams have issues and the amount of cars that finished (26 from 55) just shows that even though we were unclassified and had issues throughout the race, taking the flag at the end of it was a massive achievement. We really did deserve it based on how the team worked together; the guys just didn’t give up. That was fantastic really and they should take a lot of credit for that, everybody involved did a fantastic job.
At the start of the race Paul (Drayson) did a good job in his first stint. I jumped in the car for my first stint and immediately felt the car was different from what it had felt like previously. We had made improvements throughout the week and the engine change meant that qualifying wasn’t really a true representation of where it should have been on the grid. After the first stint we changed tyres which is not normal, usually the tyres would do at least two if not three stints when it cools off a little bit but the problem didn’t go away. We did finally get to the bottom of it and the car was fantastic to the end of the race. That was really nice and we were lapping in 3m27/3m28’s which is right at the top end of what the petrol powered cars were doing in the race. We had a lot of additional little problems such as a fuel cell issue but the team again did great work to fix it and it was nice to fully commit and have the Lola in such great condition at the end of the race. It was a real pleasure to drive, just fantastic.
I think it’s difficult to look back in hindsight and say ‘this could have happened and that could have happened’. But for sure the car had the pace to be basically one of the fastest petrol cars in the race and you have to say that we would have been able to grab 4th place. But that’s the way it goes sometimes, we have learned an awful lot from it and hopefully when we go back next year we can have a really clean race.
I think everybody, a lot of media watching the race really picked up on the spirit of the team and the fact that they just would not give up and that’s a big part of Le Mans. When I got in the car at the end and the race had an hour left to go, I still was putting 100% in and they were probably one of the best times I have ever had in a racing car during that stint.
It was my second Le Mans this year and I wouldn’t say it felt normal at all because it’s still completely out of this world but I kind of felt more comfortable in terms of knowing what was happening on and off the track. I felt that I could relax and enjoy it more just because I had prior experience. The crowds, the fans and the atmosphere – you just can’t beat it and I don’t think there is another race like it. To be in the Lola LMP, one of the prettiest cars on the grid, it’s an absolute pleasure and I am already looking forward to next year now!
For the rest of 2010 everybody’s performance in the Drayson racing team is going to be completely 100% and we can move on from Le Mans and go onwards and upwards. I think the remainder of the ALMS season is going to be really exciting and I am looking forward to it in terms of having a great car in the Lola. We have kind of been under the radar a little bit in terms of our pace. In almost every event we have been either third or second fastest throughout the race. Little issues and the odd problem here and there have compromised that pace, but people know that we are quick, no doubt about it, but we have not really made any headlines yet but we are looking to change that for sure in Salt Lake City, Utah next weekend.”