Road Atlanta: Drayson Racing race report

Drayson Racing won its third Michelin® Green X® Challenge of the 2010 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season today at the 13th Annual Petit Le Mans by Mazda2. For the environmentally focused operation, it was a significant achievement that ...

Drayson Racing won its third Michelin® Green X® Challenge of the 2010 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season today at the 13th Annual Petit Le Mans by Mazda2. For the environmentally focused operation, it was a significant achievement that validated a Herculean effort by the crew and its drivers Paul Drayson (Gloucestershire, UK) and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) to reach the chequered flag following a late week practice accident. The United Kingdom-based team was able to repair the No.8 Drayson Racing Lola Coupe with Judd Power in time for today's activities at Road Atlanta (Braselton, GA) whilst Drayson and Cocker were able to overcome the odds and finish the 10-hour/1000-mile (1,609Km) event with no third driver for relief in the punishing event. As the sole Flex-Fuel race car in the race, and by virtue of competing on second-generation E85 bio-ethanol, Drayson Racing captured the Michelin Green X Challenge, bettering the factory "works" programmes also fighting for the prestigious honour.

Few would have doubted the determination of the privateer operation managed by Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA) to ready the car in time for today's race but few would have anticipated Cocker, who started the closed-cockpit car, to be running third within the first hour after starting 39th in the field of 43. Nonetheless, the No.8 emblazoned with the Union Jack did just that. Even more astounding, Drayson (50 years) and Cocker (24 years) were able to complete the classic endurance race without the help of a relief driver. However, the dogged determination and commitment of Drayson Racing refused to give way to the obstacles taking the chequered flag sixth in Le Mans Prototype One (LMP1) category, eighth overall.

Following a Thursday night practice accident left the car heavily damaged and third driver Emanuele Pirro (Rome) not cleared to race by medical officials; the crew had less than 48 hours to rebuild the car. After being sent to nearby Elan Composites to repair a small crack in the car's tub, the Lola chassis arrived back at Road Atlanta Friday evening. Through a stellar effort the car ran its first significant laps during the 25-minute race day warm-up session just hours before the green flag. Once the clock began running on the timed event, Cocker immediately took to the attack working his way through the field before relinquishing the ride to Paul Drayson. Each driver did double stints - two fuel loads back-to-back - throughout the race before each turning a single stint at the end of the event. In total, Cocker ran approximately five hours, Drayson four in the 200 mph racer; an effort untried and unrivalled by any other competitor.

Drayson Racing has now won four career Michelin Green X Challenge trophies including titles at Salt Lake City and Road America earlier this season and at the Inaugural Asian Le Mans Series in Okayama, Japan last November. The Michelin Green X Challenge is awarded to the team which runs the furthest, the fastest on the least amount of fuel. With its sustainable motoring objective, Drayson Racing puts a high priority on winning the Michelin Green X Challenge. In 2010, Drayson Racing also has an overall victory (Road America) and two pole positions (Mid-Ohio and Road America) to its credit.

On its international calendar, the team has one more race remaining in Zhuhai, China on 7 November. The Asian Le Mans Series event marks the third of three races which make the Inaugural Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC). Today's Petit Le Mans race and the 12 September 1000Km Le Mans Series event at Silverstone (UK) are the other two rounds. Drayson Racing is currently ranked third, highest privateer entrant, in the LMP1 category entering the final race in China next month.

Paul Drayson\\Owner/Driver: "This marks another milestone is Drayson Racing's evolution as a world-class racing team. To bounce back from disaster during night practice and to get such a great result winning the Michelin Green X Challenge, which we led throughout the race, shows that the professionalism and commitment. Everyone in the team is now operating at a very high level. Graham [Moore, head engineer] and the crew did an incredible job rebuilding the car to be right the first time for the race. It didn't need a single adjustment during warm-up - amazing. Jonny and I were able to dig deep and race hard knowing we had a great car under us.

I would like to thank my trainer, Gerry Convy, sports psychologist Don Macpherson and physician Julian Winer who together have tuned my mind and body to exceed what I thought was possible two years ago. Jonny again showed his raw pace - faster than everyone except the turbo diesels. Just the two of us driving flat-out for 1000 miles around Road Atlanta without a single mistake, contact or technical problem was a perfect way to end a great ALMS 2010 season."

Jonny Cocker\\Driver: "A difficult race really. The incident in night practice meant the car was repaired on Friday. It is a real credit to the guys to get it running but it did mean that we lost-out on three big test sessions which limited the development of the car. The car was nice and balanced during the race but Paul and I had a little more driving than expected in the first place with Emanuele being out. Really steady race and a fantastic result to win the Michelin Green X Challenge."

Dale White\\Team Manager: "I am really proud of the whole team. This was a serious iron man effort by everyone. What Paul and Jonny did today, running the full race with just two drivers, really impressed me. It takes a serious commitment to do that. I am equally proud of all the guys on the team. To get the car back together after the accident Thursday night and not have a single issue with it; that's impressive. Everyone was calm and smooth and did just what they needed to do. That is just awesome and shows how far we have come as a team."

-source: drayson

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Paul Drayson , Jonny Cocker , Emanuele Pirro