No. 87 Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT2 Drivers: Paul Drayson (United Kingdom), Jonny Cocker (United Kingdom) Marino Franchitti (United Kingdom) Owner: Elspeth, Lady Drayson and Paul, Lord Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) Team...
No. 87 Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT2
Drivers: Paul Drayson (United Kingdom), Jonny Cocker (United Kingdom) Marino Franchitti (United Kingdom)
Owner: Elspeth, Lady Drayson and Paul, Lord Drayson
Team Manager: Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA)
Team Engineer: Graham Moore
* The list of professional athletes turned politician is long. However, how many high level politicians have ever competed at the highest levels of athletics while holding office? One; Paul, Lord Drayson, the Minister of State for Science and Innovation for the United Kingdom with oversight of the national science research budget, innovation policy and space programme. He currently attends the Cabinet, is a member of the National Economic Committee and reports directly to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. No other high-ranking official in government has ever participated in a professional and international sporting event the nature of Le Mans while in office. Drayson, 49, was made working Peer in the UK Parliament's House of Lords in '04 and appointed Minister of Defence Procurement and Spokesman for the Defence in the House of Lords Government in '05. He was appointed Minister of State Business and Regulatory Reform in '07 but stepped away from these posts in late '07 to pursue racing. He was asked back for his present position in October, '08; a call that came while competing in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in the United States. Drayson lives in London and Gloucestershire, UK with his wife Elspeth - who runs the day-to-day administration operations of Drayson Racing - and five children.
* Racing at Le Mans is a dream come true for Paul Drayson. It is no flight of fancy however. Drayson has made a serious commitment to developing his race craft, physical and mental fitness over four years of competitive driving. His greatest obstacle was one set-upon him by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). Born blind in one eye, FIA rules limited such individuals from receiving an international motorsport licence. Without a licence, Drayson was only allowed to compete in national events. In a December, 2008 announcement, the FIA World Council reversed that stance and agreed with Drayson due to his performance in the American Le Mans Series, his medical evidence and the prejudice of the rule. Drayson was granted the right to apply for his licence to compete at Le Mans, and all international events, by virtue of the rule being overturned. However, it was his performance behind the wheel that earned him the licence.
* The 77th Running of the 24 Heures du Mans is the first for Drayson Racing as a team. Making their inaugural starts at Le Mans are drivers Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK). Co-driver Marino Franchitti (Edinburgh/London UK) will be making his second start; his previous Le Mans start coming in 2005. Team Manager Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA) has two previous Le Mans victories in the LM GT2 class (2003, 2004) and a second-place (2005) in four starts at La Sarthe as an owner/entrant/team manager. Several of the team members also have found success at Le Mans.
* In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Aston Martin's overall win at the 24 Heures du Mans (1959), the marque will be well represented at La Sarthe. The Aston Martin Racing factory effort will bring three prototypes to Le Mans while Drayson Racing, an Official Partner Team of Aston Martin Racing, will campaign the sole Aston entry in the LM GT2 class. Additional, non-factory associated teams add to the legendary brands' numbers in P1 and LM GT1 class DBR9S.
* Jonny Cocker is one of sports car racing's young, rising stars. Having started racing in 2000 at age 14, he became the youngest British GT Champion a short four years later ('04). Cocker followed the performance by winning the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Championship in 2005. He added two victories, three pole positions and 10 podium finishes on his way to finishing second in the British GT Championship driving a bio-ethanol powered Aston Martin DBRS9 with Paul Drayson in '07 and impressed the international sports car world with his 2008 American Le Mans Series debut. The gracious driver was named Autosport Magazine's No.1 British GT Driver in 2007 and the BRDC "Rising Star" in 2004.
* Highlighting Drayson Racing's commitment to success in motorsports is the hire of multi-time 24 Hours of Le Mans and American Le Mans Series championship-winning team manager Dale White (Bozeman, Mont., USA). White managed his own entries to Le Mans 24 Hour GT class victories in 2003 and 2004. The winner of the world's most prestigious sports car events - including the 12 Hours of Sebring (2005), the Petit Le Mans ('05, '06) and the 24 Hours of Daytona (2001) - followed his 24 Hours of Le Mans success with American Le Mans Series titles in 2005 and 2006. White, who performed strategist and consulting duties for Drayson during 2008, will manage the operation's efforts in both Europe and North America.
Away from the track, he enjoys spending time in the outdoors, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling in the winter; horseback riding and four-wheeling in the summer with his family in the mountains of his Montana home. White is a member of Montana Gallatin County Search and Rescue having helped in numerous mountain rescues.
* Drayson Racing will contest professional sports car racing events on three continents in 2009. The single car team will enter five events on the Le Mans Series schedule in Europe, the American Le Mans Series calendar in the United States and two, late-season races in Asia. Included is the team's debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (13-14 June). The planning includes the American Le Mans Series season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring (21 March) as well as the North American series' final two events; the Petit Le Mans (26 September) and Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (10 Oct.). The Le Mans Series schedule in Europe opened on 5 April with the in Barcelona, Spain with stops in Belgium (10 May), Portugal (2 Aug.), Germany (23 Aug.) and England (13 Sept.). Asian events at Okayama, Japan (1 November) and Shanghai, China (8 November) close out the '09 campaign.
* Drayson Racing offers media and fans additional insight to its Le Mans programme through the use of the online community, Twitter. Regular updates on the progress of the No. 87 Aston Martin Vantage GT2 will be available live from the track each session throughout the week to "followers" of the Twitter account: DraysonRacing.