Drayson Racing Faces Tight City Streets, New Rules at Long Beach LONG BEACH, CA., USA - Drivers Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK)and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) will face one of the greatest challenges of the season when...
Drayson Racing Faces Tight City Streets, New Rules at Long Beach
LONG BEACH, CA., USA - Drivers Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK)and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) will face one of the greatest challenges of the season when practice begins for the 17 April American Le Mans Series at Long Beach event. The No. 8 Drayson Racing Lola Coupe with Judd Power, in the new combined Le Mans Prototype (LMP) category, will encounter the tight street course, shorter-than-usual race distance, large starting grid and the debut of new rules entering Round Two of the 2010 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season. Having opened the year with the wide-sweeping turns of Sebring (FL) International Raceway and 12 hours of racing to mount multiple attacks on the podium, the unyielding, wall-lined confines of the Long Beach street course and a one hour, 40-minute race - a full one hour and five minutes less than the standard "sprint" race - leaves little room to put a foot wrong.
Adding to the drama is a new, as yet-untried, set of rules designed to match the performance of the two, top classes. Drayson Racing, currently tied as the LMP class point leaders, will now face cars from its own LMP1 division - pure-breed race cars with 900Kg weight minimums - and the lighter LMP2 class in a performance-balanced, combined category known as LMP. The 1.968, 11-turn, temporary, street course puts a premium on handling and proper utilisation of the engine's output. The heavier P1 entries face a handicap verse the more nimble P2 cars on a track of this nature despite the efforts to balance the cars overall. However, in the Lola B09/60 closed-cockpit prototype and the E85-powered Judd V10 engine, Drayson Racing enjoys a unique combination. Drayson, Cocker and team manager Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA) feel this will keep them on par with the smaller LMP2-based rides even on the uncompromising street course.
In contrast to most ALMS event weekends, the teams are allowed very little time on track preceding the start of the Saturday afternoon race. Only two on-track sessions - both on Friday - lead into the 20-minute qualifying session later that day. In total, both drivers will have only two hours and 30-minutes to split as they acclimate themselves and fine-tune the car to the narrow course. Drayson and Cocker each have only one start at Long Beach driving a GT2 car in 2008 and neither has raced a prototype on a temporary course making every lap critical.
SPEED Channel will broadcast the event at 8pm (US, Eastern Time) on Saturday, 17 April. Motors TV will provide UK/European coverage at 18:03, 25 April. International radio is provided at www.radiolemans.com. Check your local listings for a complete broadcast schedule.
Elspeth, Lady Drayson, Owner/CEO: "As this is the first race in the 2010 ALMS championship under the new, combined, prototype rules it's a vital one for the Team that will set the benchmark for the rest of the series. We have shown we have an incredibly quick car on the more open circuits of Okayama and Sebring; we now need to show our pace on the narrow, twisty streets of Long Beach."
Paul Drayson, Owner/Driver: "To race a full-on Le Mans prototype on the beautiful street course of Long Beach with walls all around has to be one of the most intense experiences in motor racing. With a grid full to bursting, new rules and the challenges of this twisty circuit, the 2010 Long Beach ALMS race should be a classic. This will be my first street race in a prototype so lots to learn and not much time to do it in. However, I loved racing here in GT2 in 2008 and I know we have an exceedingly quick car in the Lola Judd V10 so it's all to race for."
Jonny Cocker, Driver: About racing at Long Beach: "It's certainly going to feel like a very big contrast to Sebring when we're driving the streets at Long Beach. I find that, so long as you don't pay too much attention to the walls, it's just like any other tight and twisty race track. I think Turn 1 is probably the most challenging of the circuit! High speed entry from sixth gear down into second for a slow speed, left-right into the roundabout, throw in the bumps and the track narrowing down on the exit and it makes for a pretty exciting corner! I really enjoy driving street circuits and can't wait to see how it feels in an LMP1 car."
About the combining of the classes:"One thing that has surprised me about our Lola Coupe is just how nimble and manoeuvrable it is in the tight, slow speed corners so I think that we should fair pretty well. For sure the LMP2 cars are going to have an advantage around this track, with their super-nimble handling, light weight in the slow speed corners and direction change. We're going to have to work really hard to keep up. The important thing is that over the course of the season it's going to make for a really exciting racing. Some weekends the P2 cars will have the edge, and others, the P1 cars."
Dale White, Team Manager: "Long Beach is one of the toughest events we'll run all season. A street course limits testing and practice time. There is no room for error by the drivers or the team. The shortened race distance is a huge challenge because passing is at a premium on a street course making race strategy critical to success. The right time to stop, the right things to do when you stop and how long the stop take all play a part in how you finish the race. Strategy is always important but here there isn't time to make up for a lost opportunity."