Drayson Racing will make its highest-ever American Le Mans Series (ALMS) career start in tomorrow's Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix. Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) earned the No.8 Drayson Racing Lola CoupÃ© with Judd Power the...
Drayson Racing will make its highest-ever American Le Mans Series (ALMS) career start in tomorrow's Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix. Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) earned the No.8 Drayson Racing Lola Coupé with Judd Power the outside of the front row, second-overall, for the fourth round of the ALMS Le Mans Prototype (LMP) season. Cocker, who will share the closed-cockpit car with former event winner Emanuele Pirro (Rome), lapped around the 3.048-mile/4.905Km Miller Motorsports Park (MMP) facility in a time of one minute, 34.886 seconds.
Whilst today's qualifying run was good for the team's best-ever ALMS start, it falls just short of the team's best-ever time trial result. The Drayson-Cocker combination earned the pole position for the Asian Le Mans Series' inaugural event at the Okayama Circuit in Japan last November. The previous best ALMS start for the United Kingdom-based team, also done in the Lola-Judd, was third at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last October. Cocker's time today was only 0.536 seconds behind the pole winning speed. The young Brit will start tomorrow's event with Pirro closing the race.
The Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA)-managed operation rallied after a challenging start to the week when a non-motorsport related injury of regular driver Paul Drayson (Gloucestershire, UK/London) forced the driver/owner from the car. Pirro will sub for Drayson this weekend with full expectations of Drayson receiving physician's clearance to return with the next round at Lime Rock Park (CT) on 24 July.
Like today, temperatures for the two-hour and 45-minute race are expected to be very high. Ambient temperature for the 20-minute qualifying session was 88F/31C with track surface ratings at 102F/39C according to Michelin tyre engineers. This will put a premium on the team's efforts to cool the 5.5 litre V10-engine and the drivers for the duration of the event.
Paul Drayson\\Owner/Driver: "A great qualifying run by Jonny puts us on the front row and in an excellent position to attack from the start. It's going to be a hot race. The temperature should be high too."
Jonny Cocker\\Driver: "Great result for the team. This is the strongest qualifying position we've had in the American Le Mans Series. Congratulations to the Highcroft team for a good effort. It was really quite close to the top-four qualifiers. Exciting for everyone. It is hard to predict what might happen but we are quietly confident that we will have a good overall result. All the time the Drayson team has spent learning and improving is starting to show. I can't wait for the race tomorrow. It is going to be interesting as the P2 cars can get tyre temperatures faster but we have a top-speed advantage. We will try and get a jump from the start but it will be difficult. Everyone will be trying to do the same."
Emanuele Pirro\\Driver: "We did two good days of testing and we have a good car for the race. I am really happy with the car that we have and I am very optimistic about the race. We are a little thirstier than the lighter cars in light of the fuel but we have the speed to stay with the leaders. If we are lucky with the fuel windows we can do very well."
Dale White\\Team Manager: "We were really gunning for pole position but we'll take outside front row this time. As a team we really wanted to get this pole position for Paul. We aren't through yet. We have been working very hard to learn the car and get to the point where we are a legitimate contender for poles and wins. We still have a little to gain but we are right there on the edge. The car is really good in race setup and Jonny and Emanuele are very happy with it. We have a lot of confidence going into the race tomorrow."