IN HIS OWN WORDS: PAUL DRAYSON Paul Drayson must feel like a kid in a candy store this week. For the first time as a competitor, the United Kingdom's Minister of State for Science and Innovation is at the 24 Hours of Le Mans - the birthplace of...
IN HIS OWN WORDS: PAUL DRAYSON
Paul Drayson must feel like a kid in a candy store this week. For the first time as a competitor, the United Kingdom's Minister of State for Science and Innovation is at the 24 Hours of Le Mans - the birthplace of automotive innovation. Drayson, Jonny Cocker and Marino Franchitti are in the Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT2 at La Sarthe, fulfilling Drayson's dream of driving at the world's greatest race.
Question: How do you feel being so close to living your dream of racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
Paul Drayson: It feels wonderful. It is how I imagine it feels standing on top of Everest looking down. It really feels that great for me.
Q: How will you define success in this event?
Drayson: Success for us is to finish. That is a major challenge but we are competitive. We are in this to win it. That is our aim. We are taking the whole thing from that perspective. But the priority to us is to demonstrate the reliability and the performance of the car. Then it's down to what turns up during the race.
Q: Your fans in the American Le Mans Series are familiar with the struggles the car had in its first development year here in the States. Are there concerns entering the cars first 24-hour race?
Drayson: Reliability last year was not good enough but the team has worked on the car this year and we are seeing much better reliability from both the engine and the car overall. That was demonstrated by the six-hour race at Spa where we ran with no problems. That is a very demanding track on the car. We feel fully prepared for Le Mans. We have done a 24-hour test and we are expecting the car to be good.
This is a good opportunity for me to thank the fans in the American Le Mans Series. They were tremendous to us last year and again at Sebring in March. We really miss racing in the States and look forward to returning for Petit Le Mans and Monterey later this year."
Q: What are your personal objectives for this race?
Drayson: My personal objective is to be competitive. I am not just here to be a tourist.
Q: You are well known for your aggressive approach of using racing to advance scientific causes. How does Le Mans play a role in the future of the automobile?
Paul Drayson: I believe that motor racing, and particularly sports car endurance racing, has a very important role in driving innovation towards efficiency, lower emissions and in changing people's perceptions toward going green. If we can use green technologies in our racing we make green cool and exciting, not dull and boring. We have certainly seen a tremendous response to the work that we have done in the Drayson Racing team.
There is a lot of exploration at the moment. Hydrogen is particularly challenging. People are putting a lot of emphasis on renewable fuels such as second generation bio-ethanol - which we use - electric, hybrid. We are now seeing the first use of hybrid technology in the American Le Mans Series. So many innovations which we now have on our road cars, like disc brakes, came out of motor racing. Disc brakes in particular came out of Le Mans. You can see the real role and importance of this. It is very important to carry on racing to drive this innovation, and I believe cars of the future are going to be lighter and more efficient, and that is going to come out of the innovations of motorsport."