Drayson Racing Comes Just Short of Full 24 Hour Objective but Achieves 11th-place in GT2 in Le Mans LE MANS, FRANCE- Paul Drayson has fought his entire life to make his dream of racing to the finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans come true. That ...
Drayson Racing Comes Just Short of Full 24 Hour Objective but Achieves 11th-place in GT2 in Le Mans
LE MANS, FRANCE- Paul Drayson has fought his entire life to make his dream of racing to the finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans come true. That dream was to be realised at 15:00 today with the fall of the chequered flag. However, an electrical malfunction would cause the car to shutdown at the end of the Mulsanne Straight with only two hours and five minutes remaining in the 77th Running of the 24 Heures du Mans. That would bring the curtain down on Drayson Racing's first attempt at Le Mans but did little to diminish the enthusiasm that the programme has for the legendary event. The No. 87 Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT2 was classified 11th after 21 hours of racing. While the Official Partner Team of Aston Martin Racing (AMR) finished short of its objective; drivers Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK), Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) and Marino Franchitti (London/Edinburgh, UK) drove spectacular races in the team's Le Mans debut and showed the true spirit of Le Mans in the process.
The Banbury, UK-based team ran as high as seventh during the event. Despite the highest level of preparation, two electrical maladies would conspire to drop the car outside of the top-10 in its premiere. The first obstacle came when an alternator failed at 03:30 causing an excruciating one hour and 20 minute pit stop to replace the non-functioning component. Once back on track, the Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA)-managed team began a concerted effort to gain time through strategy and smart driving. The attack on the 13.629 Km/8.468 mile-long Circuit de la Sarthe would see results as the trio worked themselves back into the top-10 just moments before it all went wrong.
Travelling down the Mulsanne Straight at full throttle five minutes until 13:00, Cocker suddenly found himself with no power. He coasted to the edge of the track where the event rookie but veteran sports car ace worked, via mobile phone, with the team back in the paddock for two hours in attempts to fix the V8 enough to return to the pit lane. It was not to be however and Team Manager White signed the official paperwork to "abandon" the car on course at approximately 14:30.
In the course of the 24 hours, chassis number 002 covered more distance (3706 Km/2303 miles) than chassis 001 - used exclusively in 2008 - did the whole of last season's eight races (3,400 Km/2,113 miles). The ongoing development by the team's engineering staff - headed by White and Graham Moore (Oxfordshire, UK) - AMR and the efforts of the Rob Boakes-led crew have shown more as the season has gone on. The combination of the Vantage chassis and Michelin tyres made handling changes a preference, not a need throughout the event. All told the team's momentum is growing exponentially.
Lady Drayson, Owner/CEO: "There is nothing like the atmosphere here at Le Mans. Whereas we were obviously disappointed not to have taken chequered flag, just to have got this far and done this well the first ever time, really, it is a very positive thing. I know the next question from Paul will be 'can we do it again?' I am waiting for that one."
Paul Drayson, Driver/Owner: "I am really pleased with what we achieved this weekend. The drivers didn't make a single mistake and we ran with great pace. Dale and the team did a superb job and the race lived up to its fearsome reputation. Having now climbed the mountain that is the Le Mans 24 Hours, I can tell you the view is worth the effort. I'm happy with 11th-place in the world's greatest race."
Jonny Cocker, Driver: "Massively disappointed obviously to not finish the race; especially after coming so far. It is an incredible event. It is just disappointing not to finish the race." About the incident: "I was going full throttle and then there was no power in the car. Then it basically switched itself off. I coasted as far as I could. We lost radio comms and everything. That was all we could do. We tried everything we knew to do. In communicating with Graham [Moore, engineer] back in the pits by phone I just wanted to be concise and do all I could. I just wanted to make sure we got everything done exactly as it needed to be done. We did but it didn't make any difference unfortunately."
Marino Franchitti, Driver: "The event as a whole has just been fantastic with Drayson Racing. The car and the team were so well prepared for it. Everything was smooth running. We had a couple issues in the race but planning meant we got through them with the least amount of time off track. Paul, Jonny and myself, we all drove basically a perfect race. We kept the car off the curbs, drove very conservatively but with good pace. There wasn't a mark on the car. Obviously, just at the end of the day there is disappointment because we were so close to the finish. I am just delighted with the opportunity that I've had here that Paul and Elspeth have given me with Drayson Racing. I couldn't have been with a better team. It was just a real pleasure and honour to share with Paul and Jonny and everybody. There was great team spirit. I just wish we would have gotten to the end and gotten the finish that everyone deserves."
Dale White, Team Manager: "We're obviously disappointed. You feel gutted. Truth is, I am very proud of how this team performed and that is just how they performed; as a team. Our best pit stop of the season was the last stop we performed here. Everyone is coming together. No one would have ever imagined we would have been here a year ago and we were running in the top-10 with two hours to go. I am really satisfied with that."