Drayson Racing’s Breakout Race
Drayson Racing’s Breakout Race
The only possible disppointment in what was easily the breakout American Le Mans Series race for Drayson Racing is that team owner and co-driver Paul Drayson wasn’t behind the wheel. Otherwise, Utah marked the weekend when three years worth of promise and potential in ALMS competition paid dividends.
After the previous ALMS race in Monterey, Drayson made its second straight trip to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June – where Paul was thrilled and captivated to be driving the British Racing Green Lola Judd Coupe prototype along with co-drivers Jonny Cocker and Emanuele Pirro. Although there were niggling mechanical problems along the way, the trio accomplished the feat of finishing their first 24-hour event.
Back in ALMS, late word came in that Drayson had suffered an injury to his foot and would not be able to drive in Utah. So Pirro got the call and the popular Italian, who won the first race at Miller Motorsports Park in 2006, was back for his fourth race in the Drayson Lola in 2010.
Pirro paced the promoter testing session on Friday with Cocker near the team’s first ALMS pole on Saturday before Simon Pagenaud came calling with a stunning lap to claim the pole. The tradeoff went smoothly from Cocker to Pirro in the race and the Drayson Lola seemed primed to take its first win after leading 32 total laps, save for a longer pit stop which required taking on more Cellulosic E85 fuel.
But no matter. Though Pagenaud put in two solid stints that relegated the team back to second, it was a truly satisfying result for the series’ newest full-time prototype entrant, as Drayson has not even had the Lola for an entire calendar year. Second for Cocker and Pirro also included the race’s fastest lap, set by Pirro at 1:36.291.
Even more noteworthy was the team’s win in the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge for prototypes, maximizing the use of its E85 to travel the farthest and fastest with the least environmental impact. As Paul Drayson has been actively involved in the development of green technologies both in his former political role in the British House of Lords and since he made his ALMS debut in 2008, the result means a lot.
“Second-place, fastest lap and MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge winner; a most excellent haul of trophies,” said Drayson after the race. “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.”
Team manager Dale White acknowledged this was an important step in the right direction since the team was especially competitive despite a straight-line speed disadvantage. With a naturally aspirated engine, the Drayson Lola Judd V-10 was slower than turbocharged AER engines that ran more than 180 mph down the more than a half-mile long front straight.
“This race, and the whole week, proved the strength of Drayson Racing, the Michelin tyres and the Lola CoupÃ©-Judd engine combination,” White said. “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!”