Drayson Racing has been riding a wave of momentum entering today’s 58th Running of the 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida which dated to 2009.
The wave hit its crescendo this week at Sebring International Raceway when driver Emanuele Pirro (Rome) attacked from fourth on the starting grid to bring the No. 8 Drayson Racing Lola Coupé with Judd Power into second overall early in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season-opener. However, the electrifying run by the two-time Sebring winner came to an end when the alternator failed three hours and 34-minutes into the 12 hour race. Pirro shared the car with regular team drivers Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK). Other issues with a water leak dropped the programme further back, eventually closing the day with the United Kingdom-based team fourth in Le Mans Prototype One (LMP1) class, 12th overall.
In the critical Michelin® Green X® Challenge, the team finished as the highest non-diesel powered entry. Taking third in this important environmental award was the result of the team’s use of second generation, cellulosic E85 ethanol and its efficient combination of Judd V10 engine and Lola’s closed cockpit chassis. This success was yet another example of the team’s ability to maintain momentum event-to-event. Drayson Racing won the Michelin Green X Challenge in the Asian Le Mans Series in 2009 at the Okayama Circuit in Japan.
Like qualifying before it, the race proved the strength of the first-year LMP1 operation. Not only was the Drayson Lola fast in the hands of its drivers, the team proved its ompetitive drive and professionalism in pit lane and preparation. By overcoming two alternator issues – which were discovered via onboard telemetry before the two separate incidents could drain the lithium battery – and the water leak caused when a competitor struck the Drayson machine, the Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA)-managed organisation was able to reach the total race distance allowing the drivers to score vital points in the combined LMP class championship.
The stop to replace the alternator, whist only 18 minutes in total, dropped the car from the top-three to fourth in class. This would be the case for most of the remainder of the day despite impressive lap times put in by Drayson, Cocker and Pirro. The team proved very efficient and professional in dealing with the issues. The loss of a second alternator at the end of the day dropped Drayson Racing out of a solid top-10 to its final position but it did take the chequered flag.
The team’s performance and the car’s speed will help it maintain the momentum it has built. The second round of the ALMS season will be held at Long Beach, Calif. on 17 April.
Elspeth, Lady Drayson, Owner/CEO: “I am very pleased we finished the race. Sebring is known as the toughest race of the championship and a huge test for cars and drivers alike. The team showed great spirit in dealing with the various issues as the race progressed – but it was the amazing turn of speed early on that gives me such optimism for this year.”
Paul Drayson, Owner/Driver: “After an absolutely storming first hour where we really showed the speed potential that we have. It was dogged determination that got us to the finish of the 12 Hours of Sebring tonight. We earned vital points towards the ALMS championship and learnt a huge amount to prepare for Le Mans 24 Hours. A great start to 2010.”
Jonny Cocker, Driver: “We really showed that we have absolutely huge potential this year. We are going to have a strong year. We aren’t going to struggle for pace which is fantastic to have on our side. We have gathered a very strong team that has a lot of positive experience with P cars and I think it is going to be a very good year.”
Emanuele Pirro, Driver: “There are positive things and a list of things to address. One positive is that the car is very, very strong. Personally, the positive thing is that I found the speed and the racecraft as I left it two years ago. All the things are still there and this is great for me. We lost time with mechanical issues and we had an accident when we were hit by a Peugeot. Really, the most positive thing is to bring the car home to the finish because we collected a lot of data that we can take to Le Mans. Thanks to the team and congratulations to my teammates. I am looking forward to Laguna.”
Dale White, Team Manager: “We obviously hoped for a better result. However, looking at it from the positive side, we again showed that, without a doubt, we can run with anyone. That opening stint was great racing to watch and I think it should let everyone know we are here to race and to win.”
Courtesy ALMS © RIF