Laguna Seca: Drayson Racing preview

Drayson Racing Brings Prototype Ballet to Monterey Stage SALINAS, CA, USA - Drayson Racing debuted its instantly quick Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) Lola Coupe-Judd V10 last week at the Petit Le Mans. The strikingly fast Road Atlanta circuit...

Drayson Racing Brings Prototype Ballet to Monterey Stage

SALINAS, CA, USA - Drayson Racing debuted its instantly quick Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) Lola Coupe-Judd V10 last week at the Petit Le Mans. The strikingly fast Road Atlanta circuit provided an almost violent stage on which to premiere the elegant No. 88 Drayson Racing Lola with Judd Power. Now drivers Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) and two-time British GT Champion Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) will have a command performance at the much more graceful Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The four-hour Monterey Sports Car Challenge - the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season-finale scheduled for 2:45 pm (PT) on Saturday, 10 October - is the ideal stage on which to bring the ballet-like performance of its Le Mans Prototype One (LMP1) entry.

The daylight-to-dusk event will be the first weekend at which the Anglo-American team will enter a race with more than a handful of shakedown laps to face down the greatest sports car competitors in the world. Once in Atlanta, the team's Petit Le Mans debut was confronted with Georgia's worst flooding in 100 years. Despite, the weather washing away crucial testing and practice laps, the Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA) managed operation immediately impressed. Cocker qualified the car sixth in class and raced as high as fourth proving the move from the road car-based GT2 ranks into the thoroughbred racing class of prototypes was not beyond the capability of the UK-based organisation. Drayson's performance behind the wheel truly highlighted the Minister for Science and Innovation of the United Kingdom's intrinsic driving skill. His lap times being on par with far more experienced professional drivers.

Drayson Racing may bring limited P1 experience to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn facility but it also brings high expectations. While Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is just short of Road Atlanta's track length, its sweeping turns and world-renowned "Corkscrew" corner give the California facility an almost elegant feel compared to the brute muscle of its Georgian counterpart. The two tracks offer the perfect method to display the opposite ends of the performance spectrum of the Lola B09/60 closed-cockpit racer. Atlanta requires high-end horsepower and bravado. At the Salinas-area track the drivers must find an almost dance-like rhythm; maximising the balance of power and nimbleness available to them. The graceful Lola Coupe and the finesse of the 5.5 litre, Judd V10 provide the ideal balance to achieve syncopation of straightaway and turn.

The world famous "Corkscrew" is the signature turn here. With its three-storey drop sweeping down to a short, high-speed straight before a tempo-smashing hairpin, the "Corkscrew" is a vital corner to find the right cadence. The long, undulating, uphill, front straight and tight, Turn-Two are perfectly partnered to create, or destroy, a lap in the dance which is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

QUOTES ...

Paul Drayson, Driver/Owner:
"Laguna Seca is my favourite circuit in the United States. I love the energy and beauty of Northern California and have such great memories of working in Silicon Valley. Laguna Seca is one of those great hillside circuits that is so challenging and involving because of the natural twists and turns that make up a lap. Best of all is the 'Corkscrew' turn. It felt like driving off the edge of the world last year in the Vantage GT2 car. I remember getting the advice to aim at the tree on the far hill as the road drops away so fast and is totally blind. First time I arrived at the corner I remember thinking 'Help! Which tree?' as there are several! In the LMP I am sure it's going to leave my heart in my mouth as I go over the top."

About driving the Lola-Judd: "Although we had limited running at Road Atlanta, and much of that in the wet, we learnt a great deal about the set-up of our new car. I already feel I have got to grips with driving the Lola-Judd in a wide range of conditions and I love it. It's strikingly quick - but with great traction and plenty of low down torque is surprisingly manageable - even in driving rain!"

About Racing at Laguna Seca: "Laguna Seca will be a different type of challenge to Road Atlanta. We don't expect rain but grip will be an issue due to the sand. The flowing nature of the Monterey circuit will require less courage than for Petit but more sensitivity."

Dale White, Team Manager:
"Despite the rain and the limited running at Petit Le Mans we were able to take away more information than we could have in two weeks of testing. We'll bring that to Laguna Seca with much higher expectations as a result of the strong performance of the car. If anything, I think Laguna will prove a better fit for the Lola-Judd than Road Atlanta was. Thus far, the strategy of coming out early with the prototype is working out better than we could have hoped."

-credit: dr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Paul Drayson , Jonny Cocker