Drayson Racing Wins Michelin Green X Challenge in Okayama
OKAYAMA, JAPAN - Drayson Racing concluded its inaugural season by accomplishing one of its founding objectives: win the Michelin Green X Challenge. The award for the most efficient and competitive performance in an Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO)-sanctioned series came in Race 2 of the two-event Asian Le Mans Series format here at the Okayama (Japan) International Circuit. Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) started the No. 87 Drayson Racing Lola with Judd Power from the pole position and finished fourth in the three hour race to rank as the highest privateer entrant in the race.
Strong driving by Drayson and Cocker, mixed with an excellent two-stop fuel strategy called by team manager Dale White (Bozeman, MT., USA) and the phenomenal fuel mileage of the Judd V10 engine placed the team in the position to win the environmental Michelin award. As for speed, there is no doubt the Lola B09/60 -Judd V10 has the pace. Cocker set the fastest qualifying lap on Friday (one minute, 19.143 seconds around the 3.7 Km/2.3 mile, 13-turn race course) and the fastest race lap on both Saturday (1:21.735) and today (1:20.561).
Today, Cocker got off to an exact copy of Saturday's start. The young Brit leaped from the pole position into a comfortable early lead. It was not until 20 minutes into the race that the No. 007 was able to pass for the lead. 40 minutes later, Drayson took the wheel maintaining an impressive third overall for much of his stint. The team's second and final stop came with under one hour remaining. From fifth, Cocker, back in the car, stalked, then passed the fourth-place Audi with just three minutes remaining in the race. The pass secured the team its first top-five Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) performance in just its third race weekend in the class.
In the unique, two-race championship format, Drayson Racing finished sixth in Race 1. In the Saturday race, Cocker gapped the field early from the pole until a headlight failure forced a 3-lap stop for repairs. The extended stop ended any chance of the team's first international sportscar victory.
Today marks the close of the 2009 Drayson Racing "World Tour". Since March, the team has raced in two classes of cars (LMP1, GT2), in three different race series (American Le Mans, Le Mans Series and Asian Le Mans Series) and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They have competed in every ACO-sanctioned series covering three continents (North America, Europe and Asia) and eight countries (United States, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Japan).
Elspeth Drayson, Owner/CEO: "This is a perfect end to Drayson Racing's first season. Winning the Michelin Green X Challenge is a major accomplishment that tops off an excellent weekend. Pole, two fastest laps and top-placed privateer team demonstrates the progress the team has made in just three LMP1 races. I would like to thank everyone in the team and at Lola, Judd and Michelin for such an excellent performance here in Japan."
Paul Drayson, Driver/Owner: "I really felt I stepped up a gear during my stint today and got into the zone. I now feel more clinical in dealing with the GT traffic and so I was able to maintain a quick pace with zero mistakes. Our Judd engine is super efficient and our Michelin tyres were superb throughout so we could finish with one less fuel/tyre stop than the competition and that combined with our consistently strong pace was enough for first place in the Michelin Green X Challenge. A brilliant result."
Jonny Cocker, Driver: "Absolutely fantastic end to the weekend. To come away with two poles, two fastest laps and to be the winner of the Michelin Green X Challenge shows how much the team has achieved in such a short period of time. The race went well for me. The car and the Michelin tyres were fantastic. Now we can start to concentrate on building on our performance in preparation for next year."
Dale White, Team Manager: "To win the Michelin Green X Challenge is just huge for us! This has been our goal and one of the reasons we moved to the LMP1 class. I am so happy for Paul, Elspeth and the entire team. We knew this was in us as a team. We know we have a lot more too. We proved today we have what it takes to win these races. We took a lot away from this weekend that we'll be able to use over the winter to be ready for Sebring in March. This helps us carry a really positive momentum forward."