DRAYSON RACING CAPTURE FIRST ALMS VICTORY
Drayson Racing swept every major accolade for this weekend's American Le Mans Series event at Road America. From being quickest in every practice, earning the pole position in resounding style, posting the quickest race lap, achieving its second Michelin® Green X® Challenge win and a dramatic last lap pass for the team's first-ever Le Mans Prototype (LMP), overall race victory, the weekend was clearly a dominating performance for drivers Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker. It was the first overall triumph for the No.8 Drayson Racing Lola Coupé with Judd Power in international sports car racing, the first for the United Kingdom-based team and for drivers Drayson and Cocker.
That the 4.048-mile/6.51Km Road America facility is a favourite of the drivers was shown from the start today. Paul Drayson took the green flag from the pole position and quickly settled into the perfect rhythm to match the pre-race strategy set by team manager Dale White. At one hour, 19-minutes into the two-hour, 45-minute race Drayson pitted a second time - the first for second-generation, cellulosic E85 bio-ethanol fuel only - and relinquished the driving duties to Cocker. Running fourth, 12-seconds behind the leader, with a fresh set of Michelin tyres and a full fuel load, Cocker set out to capture the team's inaugural victory.
With 51 minutes remaining in the race, Cocker, the youngest-ever British GT Champion, overtook the first two positions on a remarkable re-start entering Turn-1. Knowing that the No.8 must stop for a "splash" of fuel at the end of the event, he began to put as much room between himself and his pursuers as possible. Within three laps he set the race's fastest lap and repeated the performance again and again eventually commanding the top of the quickest race lap chart with a fastest time of the day (1:52.420) nearly two seconds quicker than his nearest competitor.
A stop to get enough bio-ethanol to complete the race with approximately 20 minutes remaining until the chequered flag would drop Drayson Racing back to fourth overall. Back on track and on the charge, Cocker overtook third position. However, whilst attempting to overtake second, fell back to fourth again when he went wide in the track's "Carousel" turn. Never a defeatist, he again retook third and second-place in the waning moments of the event. With the leading No.6 Cytosport Porsche within clear view he became even more intent. Taking the white flag Cocker trailed by what seemed an almost insurmountable distance.
Turn-by-turn, the British Racing Green coupé closed on the white Porsche. As Klaus Graf, driving the lead prototype, came into the final set of turns, he caught traffic and was delayed. Cocker pounced, taking the lead on the exit of the penultimate turn and pulled away going up the hill to the chequered flag capturing the team's first victory by 1.051 seconds.
With the victory, the team, which led a total of 17 laps, was also able to capture its third Michelin Green X Challenge trophy for the competitor who travels the furthest, the fastest, on the least amount of fuel. The environmentally conscious race team relished the dual-victory. The two previous Michelin Green X Challenge trophies adorning Drayson Racing headquarters are from the inaugural event of the Asian Le Mans Series in Okayama, Japan, November 2009 and at the ALMS' Salt Lake City race in July. To round out the sweep, on Saturday, the No.8 had earned its second, consecutive ALMS pole position with a time 1.3 seconds faster than second on the grid.
Following today's exhilarating and popular victory, the team travels to Bowmansville, Ontario, Canada for next Sunday's (29 August) Grand Prix of Mosport. Mosport International Raceway should again be a track strongly suited for the Drayson Racing Lola-Judd and drivers Drayson and Cocker.
Paul Drayson\Owner/Driver:"Elspeth, the children and I are delighted with today's win. It was such an exciting race where absolutely everything had to go right. And it did. The last laps with four cars in a train for the LMP lead was so exciting and Jonny's storming drive at the end was world-class. Everyone in Drayson Racing performed brilliantly today and I am so proud of the team we have created. Winning both the overall first place and the Michelin Green X Challenge vindicates everything we believe in. Today we showed you can be the fastest and the greenest. A great day!"
Jonny Cocker\Driver:"Just an incredible feeling for Drayson Racing to take our first, overall, ALMS win. Everyone has worked so hard for this and I really feel we deserve it. A massive thanks to everyone involved in the team and for all the continued support. Paul, Dale's strategy, the Drayson crew, Michelin tyres, the Lola, the Judd engine were all spot-on all day. Everything came together today." About the closing laps: "The last few laps of the race were just as exciting in the car as I am sure they were from the outside. An incredible feeling to be lucky enough to have a car underneath me that was capable of winning the race. When I saw Klaus [Graf] in the distance on the last lap I never expected to be able to catch up fast enough. He was unlucky with a bit of traffic and I was pushing absolutely flat out. I managed to make a move into Turn 13. I was not going to do anything to lose us second-place but I was not going to pass up the opportunity on that move. Very exciting! On to Mosport!"
Dale White\Team Manager:"I am really, really proud of everyone on this team. We knew we had it in us but everyone at Drayson Racing just had to get their confidence up. That has been growing and growing and now they all know they can do it. I never promised Paul and Elspeth a victory but I promised them we would do everything we could to reach that goal. Everyone worked really hard to make that promise come true. Now that we have done it my promise is that we won't let up the rest of the year!"
All pictures americanlemans.com unless otherwise stated.
© Regis Lefebure All Rights.
© Regis Lefebure All Rights.