Road Atlanta: Drayson Racing qualifying report

Drayson Racing to Debut LMP1 Lola-Judd from 8th on Petit Grid BRASELTON, GA, USA - Drayson Racing has continued their focused and regimented attack on the world-wide, competitive debut of the No. 88 Drayson Racing Lola with Judd Power. Earlier...

Drayson Racing to Debut LMP1 Lola-Judd from 8th on Petit Grid

BRASELTON, GA, USA - Drayson Racing has continued their focused and regimented attack on the world-wide, competitive debut of the No. 88 Drayson Racing Lola with Judd Power. Earlier today, two-time British GT Champion Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) qualified the car eighth on the LMP1 grid, ninth overall, for the 12th Annual Petit Le Mans here at Road Atlanta. The 1000 mile/10 hour endurance race is the first time which Drayson Racing has raced its new, closed-cockpit, prototype. The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) event is also the first time for Cocker and co-drivers Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) and two-time Le Mans Series GT2 Champion Rob Bell (St Helens, UK) to race a prototype of any kind.

Combined, the challenge is immense but the team's systematic approach - true to the scientific principles of the organisation - is paying off. Despite early week rain dramatically cutting track time for the trio of LMP "rookies", each driver has surpassed early goals. The top-ten qualifying effort has buoyed expectations for tomorrow's event. Once considered a "real time test", the ALMS cornerstone event now offers the potential for a top-five performance in the car's first showing.

Cocker's lap of one minute, 10.552 seconds around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta facility was the team's quickest of the weekend. It came on the fifth of nine qualifying laps which shows the strength and enduring speed of the Michelin Tyres. Cocker will take the green flag of the 29-car field at 11:15 am (ET) Saturday. Over the course of the 10 hour or 1,000 mile (1,609 Km) event, Drayson, then Bell will be able to further extend their seat time in the green-on-green racer.

Rain is expected to return to the North Georgia-area during the course of the day. Rain amounts, as some forecast, could prove a pivotal advantage to the all-British driver line up. Wet conditions play favourably to the strong handling of the Lola Coupe, Michelin Wet-Weather tyres and the skill of the trio in the wet. Furthermore, a damp track can prove the great equaliser between entries benefitting the newest chassis-engine combination in the race.

Earlier in the day, Drayson Racing announced its intention to compete in the full, 2010 American Le Mans Series schedule with the Lola. This comes after a season of racing three events in North America (including the 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans and next month's ALMS season-finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca), the full, five-race Le Mans Series schedule in Europe and the 24 Hours of Le Mans - the team's first. The Anglo-American team will close the season with two, three-hour races in Japan.

Quotes

Paul Drayson, Driver/Owner: "Watching Jonny qualify the Lola-Judd for Drayson Racing's first LMP1 race was really something. Dale [White, Team Manager] and I had grins on our faces throughout the session. Jonny did an ace job. P8 first time out against the world's best factory teams is more than we expected and the competitiveness of the car at this early stage bodes well for the future. We are off to a great start."

Jonny Cocker, Driver: "Fantastic qualifying really. For our first go the car was really good. The guys have done an unbelievable job throughout the week. We have made it step and step and step getting quicker and quicker. I think for us, the leveller really is the Oreca car and it is good to be within a second of them in our first attempt. It would have been nice to be faster but, unless you are on the pole, that is always going to be the case. We are in a good position to start the race. It is a long, long race with lots of opportunities. I am just looking forward to getting to Saturday."

Live, flag-to-flag television coverage of the race can be found on SPEED in North America as well as MotorsTV and Eurosport in the UK and Europe. Live radio coverage is available at www.radiolemans.com and on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio.

-credit: drayson

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Series ALMS
Drivers Rob Bell , Paul Drayson , Jonny Cocker