GLOBAL GREEN SUCCESS FOR DRAYSON RACING IN 2010
Over 79 hours of extreme sportscar racing across three continents proving the competitiveness of second-generation biofuel, promoting green racing world-wide and achieving:
- 3rd place; ALMS and ILMC Team Championships
- 1st overall; Road America
- 3 Michelin® Green X® Challenge Wins
- Jonny Cocker 3rd, Paul Drayson 5th in ALMS Drivers Championship
GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK- Drayson Racing's ambition is to be the world's leading green technology racing team and the programme made big steps towards that goal in 2010. The team started the international sportscar season with the most aggressive racing schedule of any privateer organisation in the world. The cornerstone of the Le Mans Prototype One (LMP1) effort was the American Le Mans Series' (ALMS) nine-race calendar but the team added the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) events in Europe and Asia as well. With November's 1000KM of Zhuhai (China), drivers Paul Drayson (Gloucestershire, UK) and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) closed the United Kingdom-based team's 12-race season securing third in both the ALMS and ILMC Team Championships. Making the accomplishment even more impressive, Drayson Racing used an innovative Flex-Fuelled, Lola Coupé with Judd V10 Power capable of running on both second-generation, cellulosic E85 bio-ethanol and E10. In doing so, the privately-held operation proved sustainable motoring can compete head-to-head with traditional automotive technologies and win!
Drayson Racing, which debuted its stand-alone operation in 2009, made the leap from the road car-based GT2 class to LMP1 in September of last year. The move was made with the singular focus of using the prototype class as a rolling test bed for "green" technologies. Since then, the Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA)-managed team has worked closely with technical partners Lola Cars International, Engine Development Ltd. (parent company of Judd Engines) and Michelin tyres to create a race programme targeting such innovations. The first evidence of this is the team's exclusive nature as the world's only Flex-Fuel LMP1 entry. Fuelled by E85 bio-ethanol in the ALMS and an E10 petrol-blend in Europe and Asia, Drayson Racing makes the transition using the same Judd powerplant in all applications. No other entrant has made the effort to make this shift whilst racing in all the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO)-licenced series around the world, and it is a credit to Race Engineer Graham Moore and his team that the car has performed so successfully with this added complication.
Whilst some may doubt motorsport's place in advancing these critical innovations and sustainable technologies, Drayson Racing set to the task of proving in the most gruelling, automotive "laboratory" known to man they are the future of automotive technology. Proof came as early as the first race in Sebring (20 March). Despite carrying an additional ten litres of fuel as compared to the E10-powered entries, Drayson Racing was the only team to directly challenge the pace-setting diesels of the factory Peugeot team. Endurance team driver Emanuele Pirro (Rome) split the two "works" cars in the first hour of the 12 hour classic.
In June, the group's first 24 Hours of Le Mans with the prototype would prove challenging as the team fought a string of technical issues. However, Drayson Racing kept battling on, eventually taking the chequered flag and learning a huge amount in the process. That was in evidence at Salt Lake City, the next event on the calendar, where the team took its first podium finish (second place overall) and its first ALMS Michelin® Green X® Challenge after leading much of the race.
Just beyond the season's midpoint, Drayson's full competitiveness began to show. Mid-Ohio was the site of the team's, and E85's, first-ever pole position in international sportscar racing. Road America, long a favourite of sports car aficionados, saw the breakout win for drivers Drayson and Cocker as, for the first time in motorsport history, a bio-ethanol fuelled race car won a major international event. This groundbreaking victory came on the shoulders of complete domination by the closed-cockpit prototype as the team started from pole, took fastest race lap - many times over - and a spectacular last-lap pass for the win. It was the first prototype victory for the team and both drivers.
A switch back to E10 awaited the programme as it travelled to native-soil to race in the opening round of the ILMC; the 1000KM of Silverstone. Immediately quick on its home track, the Drayson Lola-Judd was regularly among the top privateers challenging the factory efforts. Despite a mechanical issue that delayed the run, Paul Drayson had one of his most impressive drives of the season to place the team in a strong position in the ILMC Team battle. Petit Le Mans, the ALMS season-ending event as well as the second round of the ILMC, proved again the programme's strength as Cocker was able to challenge both the Audi and the Peugeot juggernauts well into the race. All of this despite a brutal practice accident that forced the team to miss qualifying as well as lose the talents of relief driver Pirro for the race. Drayson Racing turned the quickest, non-diesel lap of the event and, with only two drivers to make the 1000-mile distance, scored its third Michelin Green X Challenge title of the season.
At the ALMS "Night of Champions", the team was honoured as the first organisation to win Michelin Green X Challenge trophies in two different international sportscar series (the ALMS in 2010 and the Asian Le Mans Series in 2009) and to give bio-ethanol its first-ever international race victory. Paul Drayson stood to accept third-place in the combined LMP class Team Championship and fifth in the drivers title whilst Cocker took third-place driver awards after a spectacular season for the young Brit.
Drayson Racing's team partners also benefited from their "green" effort this season with Lola being awarded second in the chassis manufacturer championship and Judd taking fourth in the engine division just two points from third. Michelin, like Drayson Racing a true believer and innovator in sustainable motoring concepts, dominated the tyre battle taking its 12th-consecutive Tyre Manufacturer Championship.
Following a brief respite to change the car once again back to E10 fuel, the international sportscar community travelled to Zhuhai, China for the season-finale of the ILMC. Following the 1000KM event, Drayson Racing crossed the finish line as the highest-finishing LMP1, privateer in the team championship. In an almost unheard of display of its strength, Drayson Racing finished just behind the Peugeot and Audi factory teams to take third in the inaugural Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the precursor to a full, sportscar world championship.
In total, for the second-consecutive season, Drayson Racing undertook one of the most daunting schedules in motorsport. Its 12-race season saw the team race on three continents (Europe, North America and Asia) and in five countries (United Kingdom, United States, France, Canada, China) with a total, scheduled race time of 79 hours, 25 minutes. No other factory or privateer entrant in the LMP1 class approached this challenge. The pole positions and race victories stand as E85's greatest motorsport achievement proving that sustainable fuels have a real place in the future of motorsports. Drayson Racing's dual, third-place championship awards rank highest in the team's short, international racing history. Together, they show that "green" racing in the hands of a professional team can challenge even the most established programmes in the sport.