As the 2008 American Le Mans Series season dawned, a unique team with a green approach was on the grid. A partnership by British-based Barwell Motorsport and Paul Drayson, former Minister of Defense Procurement for Britain's House of Lords, became Drayson-Barwell for the 11-race North American championship.
Set as a three-step program, Drayson-Barwell completed its first mission stateside with its new cellulosic E85-fueled Aston Martin Vantage GT2. Now, it's back to Europe to complete the journey, with the goal of being invited to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Barwell Motorsport confirmed Wednesday its plans to contest the European-based Le Mans Series season next season with at least one car. The Mark Lemmer-led squad will also submit one entry to the famed twice-around-the-clock French classic in June and return to competition in the FIA GT3 European Championship with a brace of Aston Martin DBRS9s.
"The Aston Martin Vantage is moving closer and closer to the outright GT2 pace," said Barwell managing director, Mark Lemmer. "The FIA has certainly got on top of the balance of performance for the DBRS9, which is a serious contender for the 2008 FIA GT3 title. With all this is mind, I am really looking forward to the team coming back to the European stage and showing what we are capable of!"
There's no word yet on whether Drayson will continue to be part of the project. It all may hinge on his newly appointed position as Minister of Science in the UK, and whether those new commitments would interfere with the five-round LMS championship and Le Mans, entry permitting.
Either way, Barwell is moving forward with its program and is likely to continue with the Vantage GT2. After a challenging debut season in the ALMS, the team walked away confident of its pace, especially after encouraging results shown at the final two races of the season. Coupled with an increased amount of support by Aston Martin Racing, the Vantage GT2 could be a serious challenger in 2009.