Following a promising debut season in the American Le Mans Series, Paul Drayson will return to the cockpit of his Aston Martin Vantage GT2 for more action in 2009, but with a few new twists. The former Minister of Defense Procurement in...
Following a promising debut season in the American Le Mans Series, Paul Drayson will return to the cockpit of his Aston Martin Vantage GT2 for more action in 2009, but with a few new twists. The former Minister of Defense Procurement in Britain's House of Lords turned sportscar racer has formed his own new team, Drayson Racing, for an attack on the European-based Le Mans Series, as well as select races in America and Asia.
Drayson has assembled an aggressive new program, but with a number of familiar faces associated with Drayson-Barwell's 2008 ALMS campaign. Jonny Cocker, who teamed with Drayson in the No. 007 Aston Martin, returns to the driving seat. Dale White, who helped spearhead Drayson-Barwell's ALMS entry, has been named team manager, while Ted Higgins, who also worked with Drayson and Cocker last season, takes on the role as crew chief. Additionally, Aston Martin Racing has nominated Drayson Racing as an official partner team.
"Dale brought a wealth of experience and professionalism to my 2008 ALMS programme and I am delighted that we are going to be working together again in 2009," Drayson said. "I am also very happy to be continuing in partnership with Aston Martin Racing. The GT2 Vantage is a beautiful car and its recent pace points to its potential to win in 2009."
The team will begin its season in Florida, taking part in the ALMS season-opening Twelve Hours of Sebring. Then, the focus will shift to the five-round Le Mans Series championship in Europe, followed by a return Stateside for the final two ALMS races of the season at Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca. Plans are also in place for Drayson Racing to compete in the two ACO-sanctioned Asian Le Mans Series events at Mt. Fuji, Japan and Shanghai in November. The team will also submit an entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
"The schedule we have outlined for the team will be very challenging but will put the 007 Aston Martin Vantage GT2 at some of the greatest tracks in the world," said White, who is a multi-time 24 Hours of Le Mans and ALMS championship-winning team manager. "We believe we have assembled the ingredients to create a winning programme. Paul and I share the same passion for motorsports and the environment and that makes this relationship so rewarding. It is my goal to help Paul accomplish his dream of not only competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans but to win it."
Drayson and Cocker will enter their third season together as co-drivers. After earning runner-up honors in the British GT Championship in 2007, they made their ALMS debut last year. The duo notched a season-best seventh-place finish at Laguna Seca in what could be considered as a development year for the brand-new Vantage GT2.
"I'm really thrilled to be driving again with Paul in 2009," Cocker said. "Returning again to the American Le Mans Series with Dale's experience will prove to be invaluable, and I'm excited to be taking all that we have learnt over the past few years into a full season of Le Mans Series and earning our place to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans!"
Drayson, who currently serves as the Minister of Science and Innovation in the UK Government, has been a loyal supporter of green racing initiatives throughout his racing career. From his upstarts in a bio-ethanol Aston Martin DBRS9 in the British GT Championship to last year's cellulosic E85-fueled Vantage GT2, Drayson has helped promote the fact that being green can be cool and exciting.
The 2009 season will be no exception, as second-generation cellulosic E85 will fuel the team's Vantage GT2 in the ALMS events. As it stands now, bio-ethanol is not an allowed fuel choice in ACO-sanctioned races in Europe.
"We have been delighted with the development Lord Drayson has pioneered in the GT2 bio-ethanol car during the 2008 American Le Mans Series," said Aston Martin Racing team principal George Howard-Chappell. "2009 will again offer an exciting year for the Team. As an Aston Martin Racing Official Partner, we will work closely with Drayson Racing to ensure their continued development and success."