On a weekend of significant firsts, Drayson Racing topped it off with a hard-fought second-place overall result — its highest career American Le Mans Series (ALMS) finish — at today’s Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix.
Coupled to the podium finish at Miller Motorsports Park (MMP), was the team’s second career Michelin® Green X® Challenge victory; a major objective for the environmentally-focused organisation. Drivers Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) and Emanuele Pirro (Rome) each led the race for a combined total of 32 laps in the No.8 Drayson Racing Lola Coupé with Judd Power during the 91 lap event. It was the first time the United Kingdom-based programme had led in the ALMS.
Cocker started the two-hour and 45-minute Le Mans Prototype (LMP) race from the team’s best-ever ALMS qualifying position, second, and took the top-spot for the first time 30 minutes into the race using slower traffic to capture then extend the lead. The quick, young Englishman held the top-spot until 59-minutes into the race when he pitted with a 34-second lead. The stop for second-generation E85 bio-ethanol fuel, four Michelin tyres and the driver change to Pirro slipped the team back to third. Pirro, the 2006 winner of this event, reclaimed the lead 35-minutes later and held it until the team’s second stop for fuel with just under 45-minutes remaining in the race. He would take the chequered flag 19 seconds behind the winning entry. Pirro would also claim the Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA)-managed team’s first fastest race lap in an ALMS event three laps prior to the final fuel stop with a lap of one minute, 36.291 seconds.
Pirro, Drayson Racing’s endurance event driver, joined Cocker after a non-motorsports-related injury forced driver/owner Paul Drayson (Gloucestershire, UK/London) to sit out this event. Drayson, who was on-site for the successful day, badly sprained his right ankle preventing him from driving today. He will return for the next event at Lime Rock Park (CT) on 24 July.
Drayson Racing concluded its best weekend of prototype racing to-date by accomplishing one of its founding objectives: winning the Michelin® Green X® Challenge. The award for the most efficient and competitive performance in an Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO)-sanctioned series is part of the team’s founding principal to utilise motorsport to advance the development of sustainable motoring. It marks the second time the team has won the award having first achieved it in the Asian Le Mans Series inaugural event in Okayama, Japan, November 2009.
Television coverage of today’s race can be seen in Europe on MotorsTV, 18 July 16:45 UK)/17:45 (CET).
Paul Drayson, Owner/Driver:”Second-place, fastest lap and Michelin Green X Challenge winner; a most excellent haul of trophies. It was tough watching from the sidelines but it was a very exciting race and we pushed hard all the way. I was very proud of the whole team’s performance this weekend. It bodes well for the future.”
Jonny Cocker, Driver: “The Drayson Lola-Judd was really good. No doubt that the car was capable. At the start we just bided our time really and I managed to get by for the lead in turn-five. I was able to pull a 20-second gap but we lost our advantage when the safety car came out and we gave back all we were able to manage on that first stint. Emanuele did a great job; everyone at Drayson Racing did a great job and we really deserve this second-place.”
Emanuele Pirro, Driver: “The whole weekend has been a really good weekend for us. We are a young team and we are still learning. This has been a smooth weekend. We had no problems. The race went well and at one stage I thought we could win it. At the end the car was oversteering a little too much and I was not able to push any more than I did. It was a really positive, positive result and we all needed it because the team has been working very hard with really late hours in the past races. This proves that when things go smooth you have a good chance that the race will go well also. We have to become a little better to win races but we have time. We have to look at second-place with a big smile on our faces and look at the positives for the rest of the season.”
Dale White, Team Manager: “Things had gone so well, so smoothly, all week that I was confident in our race performance this weekend. This race, and the whole week, proved the strength of Drayson Racing, the Michelin tyres and the Lola Coupé-Judd engine combination. Everyone on this team could have easily laid down after the trials at Le Mans but they came here to Salt Lake City and got to work and showed what we are made of. This is the start we needed for this string of races and I am excited about getting Paul in the car at Lime Rock and doing this again!”
© RIF | ALMS