Teams2010 American Le Mans Series By Jeremy McMullen
Lord Paul Drayson, the former Minister for Science and Innovation in the United Kingdom, has never been one that enjoyed the quiet life. Despite losing his ministerial positions in the 2010 general election, Drayson wasn't 'down in the mouth'. The gentleman racer had always been committed when behind the wheel. And, 2010 enabled the Brit to totally focus on his racing team, Drayson Racing.
Always a major proponent of motorsport, especially motorsport fueling the advancement of new, clean technology, Drayson's team entered the American Le Mans Series with its Lola B09/60, Judd-powered chassis once again.
Introduced at the Petit Le Mans the year before, the Drayson Racing Lola-Judd appeared for the first race of the season at Sebring with its two-toned green livery and Union Jack adorning the top of the engine cover. Though utilizing the same Lola B09/60 as they had at the Petit Le Mans the year before, the car still had undergone some aero-updating so that it appeared to be practically the same as the new B10/60.
The majority of those updates occurring to the B09/60 took place at the rear of the car. The car features a one piece rear-bodywork cowling that allows easy removal and access to the rear. In addition to the one piece cowling, the rear portion of the sidepod is contoured greatly. These form some of the more aesthetically noticeable changes between the B09 and B10.
Arriving at Sebring, Florida for the 20th of March running of the 12 Hours of Sebring, Lord Drayson would arrive with a powerful driver line-up. Lord Drayson has always been a serious racer and his driver line-up would emphasize his commitment. Besides himself, Drayson employed the talents of the young British driver Jonny Cocker and five-time Le Mans champion Emanuele Pirro.
Although focused on the first race of the season, Drayson Racing's calendar would be full for 2010. The team would not only compete in the American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but they would also take part in the inaugural season of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, which included three rounds: the 1000km of Silverstone; Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, in Georgia; and the 1000km of Zhuhai in China.
The regulations for the American Le Mans Series had changed for 2010. LMP1 and LMP2 were all lumped together. The nature of the tracks in the United States kept the competition between the two categories rather close, but the costs associated between the two classes was greatly separated. In an effort to reduce costs and create a larger, more competitive field of cars, the two categories were formed into one LMP1 category.
The longer distance races were the exception. The 12 Hours of Sebring would retain the two LMP categories. However, Drayson had made the commitment to LMP1 when he purchased the Lola B09/60 at the end of 2009.
In qualifying, Emanuele Pirro would record the fastest lap for the team. His best time around the 3.7 mile concrete road course was one minute and forty-six seconds. Pirro's best time in the Lola was over one second slower than the pole-time set by Marc Gene in the number 07 Peugeot 908. This meant Drayson Racing would start the 12 hour endurance test in the 4th position on the grid. Team Peugeot's number 08 would start 2nd, while Aston Martin Racing's 007 started 3rd.
Right from the start of the 12 hour race, the two Lola chassis were locked in a battle. By the 4th lap, Drayson Racing was in 3rd place behind the two Peugeot 908s. Pirro would stay right there for about a dozen laps. Then, on the 17th lap, the Drayson Racing Lola was able to take over 2nd from the 08 Peugeot. Pirro pulled off what would be one of the more impressive passes of the whole season, and especially at Sebring, as he sliced his way between some GT traffic to get by one of the Peugeots to take over 2nd place. Pirro had pulled off an incredibly brave move and would stay in 2nd for five laps until having to pit. This was a good beginning for the team. They just needed to keep it going for eleven and one half more hours.
Throughout the first hour and a half of the race, Drayson Racing ran amongst the top-three. Before two hours had passed, the Peugeot, and, the 007 Lola Aston Martin had managed to get by and would separate itself from Drayson's Lola B09. From that point on, Drayson focused on finishing the race instead of dicing up front. Unfortunately, that made the team available prey for the LMP2 contenders. Almost four hours into the race, the number 1 Highcroft Racing entry would get by into 4th overall. By the time four hours had passed, Drayson Racing was running down in 6th place overall, and 4th in class.
Before the race had even reached halfway, the team came under fire from some of the Le Mans Prototype Challenge competitors. At the halfway mark, Drayson Racing was still running in 6th place overall and 4th in LMP1.
Drayson Racing had found a comfortable pace running in 6th place overall. The team would stay right in that spot over the next four hours of the race. Heading into the last hour of the race, Drayson Racing found itself locked in a battle with the GT2 Ferrari 430 of Risi Competizione. Troubles would hit the team right at the very end of the race. The team would scramble to hold on until the end.
At the end of the race, Team Peugeot Total, car number 07, would take the victory over its sister-car, car 08. Aston Martin Racing would finish in 3rd in LMP1, down three laps to the Peugeots. Drayson Racing would hold on until the end. The team would end up being beaten by a number of GT2 class cars, but the team would finish the race 12th overall and 4th in class.
The next race on the team's busy calendar for 2010 was the American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race on the 17th of April. The race was 67 laps of the storied 1.96 mile street course in downtown Long Beach, California.
The race on the streets of Long Beach truly kicked off the American Le Mans Series season as Team Peugeot, and others, headed back to Europe to take part in the Le Mans Series there. This also meant the two LMP categories would become one. They would not be split apart until the teams, who had received invitations, headed to France for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
One particular hold-over from the European Le Mans Series for Long Beach was Aston Martin Racing and its 007 Lola-Aston Martin. Adrian Fernandez would remind everybody of their presence when he would put the Aston Martin-powered Lola on the pole with a lap of one minute and thirteen seconds. Simon Pagenaud, of Highcroft Racing, wasn't much slower. His best lap was only seven hundredths of a second slower. Dyson Racing Team would start the race 3rd after recording a time of one minute and fourteen seconds. Jonny Cocker would be slower in the Drayson Racing Lola. The best Lord Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker would be able to do would be to start the race 6th after recording a best time in qualifying of one minute and seventeen seconds.
Although the team would start 6th, they wouldn't stay there too long. After an early safety car period, Drayson Racing would make its way to 5th. After a second safety car period, all within the first 10 laps of the race, Drayson was up to 4th. Throughout the first half of the race, Drayson would remain around 5th place overall. The team would pit under another safety car period. Cocker would have trouble trying to leave the pits and would drop down the order to 13th overall. After other teams made their stops, and the order was sorted, Drayson Racing was running 7th overall.
The team wasn't looking all that bad. They were driving a steady pace, and were staying out of trouble, until…Then, on the 61st lap of the race, troubles visited the team. Cocker would have an on-track incident with a Porsche and would suffer bodywork damage to both the front and the rear of the car. This unfortunate event happened with only ten minutes left in the race. They would drop from 7th to 16th in one lap and would continue falling further down the order as the laps went by.
As the 67th, and final, lap was drawing to a close, the race was far from over. Simon Pagenaud would be able to get inside the Lola-Aston Martin after Fernandez had trouble under braking. Simon would out-sprint Fernandez to the line and would win the race by only three tenths of a second! The Muscle Milk Team Cytosport would end up finishing 3rd. The unfortunate run-in with the Porsche would cause Drayson Racing to slip all the way from inside the top-ten to a 26th place finish overall. Truly, the race was a bitter disappointment for the team.
The team would have to wait over a month to try and avenge for the disappointment faced at Long Beach. The race the team had to wait for was the six hour ALMS Monterey race held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca between the 20th and 22nd of May.
The race at Laguna Seca would be long compared to previous seasons. At six hours in length, it would be the first time the American Le Mans Series ever raced that long at the track. It also ensured the race would continue on into the darkness. This was another first at Laguna Seca. Because of its duration, Emanuele Pirro was back with Jonny Cocker and Lord Drayson.
Lord Drayson would end up taking part in qualifying. Guy Smith, of Dyson Racing Team would set the fastest lap of the entire field in his Mazda-powered Lola B09/86. Smith completed a lap of the 2.238 mile road course, including the famous 'corkscrew', in one minute and twelve seconds. Patron Highcroft Racing's entry, driven by David Brabham would end up with the second fastest time. Highcroft Racing would end up starting the race; however, from the back of the field after one of their drivers failed to take part in either of the practice sessions on Friday. This promoted The Muscle Milk Team Cytosport entry, driven by Klaus Graf, who had provisionally qualified 3rd with a time of one minute and thirteen seconds.
Lord Drayson's best time was only just faster than the first of the LMPC entries. The team had suffered trouble before qualifying and they were still trying to sort them out when qualifying began. Drayson's best time was one minute and sixteen seconds; almost four seconds slower than Smith's pole-sitting time. Drayson Racing would; however, be helped by Highcroft Racing being sent to the back of the grid because of the penalty. Instead of starting the race from 6th, the team actually would start the six hour race 5th.
The race started at 2:30 in the afternoon under sunny skies and mild temperatures. The racing amongst the field was quite tight and competitive despite statements of drivers about intending to drive 'boring' races as they tried to get into a flow. Lord Drayson started the race. And, in all of the excitement of the first lap, would go off the course at turn five and would stall the car. As a result of the off, Drayson Racing was dead-last after the first lap. The team would stay there for the next six laps as it tried to catch up.
After a half hour of racing, Drayson had managed to make his way up to 22nd overall. Meanwhile, Clint Field, of Intersport Racing, had managed to grab the lead and was holding onto it over Dyson Racing's entry.
An hour into the race, Drayson Racing was back up inside the top-ten overall and running as high as 5th. Over the next hour the team would hang around 5th place and would flirt with 4th. Two hours into the race, Cocker took over behind the wheel of the car. After another couple safety car periods, Cocker was running around 3rd place overall. After a pit-stop, the team would drop down to 13th overall and would continue falling down the order. All of a sudden the car came to a complete stop between turns three and four. The car was towed to the top of the corkscrew and out of the race. Emanuele Pirro had recorded the fastest lap in the Drayson Racing Lola during practice, and yet, never got a chance behind the wheel.
The failure at Laguna Seca, and the bitter disappointment at Long Beach, had really hurt the team in the ALMS Championship battle in LMP1. After Sebring, the team was tied at the top of the standings. After the third round, the team was trying to fight its way out from the bottom of the standings. Though frustrating for the team, they would have to forget about what had happened so far during the season as the team had a very important race in which to prepare. One month after the failure of Laguna Seca, Drayson Racing would be flying through the French countryside at over 200 mph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Drayson Racing's Judd-powered Lola would be one of eighteen LMP1 entries. As with the six hour race at Laguna Seca, Lord Drayson would be joined by Jonny Cocker and Emanuele Pirro for the famous French endurance race.
Drayson Racing would face Team Peugeot once again in LMP1, but also, the dominant Audi Sport Team's three entries as well. Though powerful and reliable, the petrol-powered Judd V10 couldn't match the acceleration of the diesel-powered Peugeots and Audis down the long straights along the 8.46 mile road course. In qualifying the differences would become ever more clear.
Despite the best efforts by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), speeds of the top diesel-powered LMP1 prototypes were pushing well over 210 mph down the Mulsanne Straight and between Mulsanne Corner and Indianapolis. The ACO had planned to get lap times back up above three minutes and twenty-five seconds. Instead, as qualifying would prove, the times only continued to dip below three minutes and twenty seconds.
Outright speed, combined with reliability, is always of utmost importance at Le Mans. For sheer out-right speed, nothing could touch the diesel-powered Peugeot 908. Team Peugeot Total would qualify one-two-three. A fourth Peugeot 908, run by Team Oreca Matmut, would make it four Peugeot 908s in a row on the starting grid. Audi, and their updated R15 'Plus' would take positions 5th through 7th on the starting grid. Aston Martin Racing's car 007 and 009 would be the fastest of the petrol-powered cars during qualifying. They would start 8th and 9th.
Over the course of the two days of qualifying, the best time Drayson Racing would be able to achieve happened on the second day. Their best lap was three minutes and thirty-one seconds. This left a lap time gap of over twelve seconds behind the number 3 Peugeot 908 on pole and meant Drayson Racing's car number 11 would start the race from 14th overall. Thankfully for the team, the race was twenty-four hours. As long as they had the reliability, there was a good chance they could earn a good result at the end of the day-long racing.
The race would get underway, as usual, at three in the afternoon. At the end of the first lap, Drayson Racing was holding station in 14th. However, Rebellion Racing's Aston-Martin-powered Lola was making its way up the order after a poor qualifying effort. Over the course of the 2nd lap of the race, the Rebellion Racing entry would end up getting by and into 14th overall. Drayson Racing would fall down one more place but would hold that position through the first six laps of the race.
The three safety cars were deployed for Nigel Mansell's accident in the Beechdean Mansell Zytek. Drayson Racing decided to make an early pit-stop. Because of the new rules with the three pace cars, the team ended up losing a lot of time waiting for the next safety car to get in line behind. This dropped the team down to 20th overall and forced a greater separation between themselves and the other LMP1 competitors.
Throughout the first 40 laps of the race, the team ran inside the top-twenty throughout, and even, looked poised to get inside the top-ten overall. Unfortunately, that would not happen. In fact, the team would begin to fall down the order due to issues. By the 50th lap of the race, the team was down in 21st overall and over twenty-four minutes, or almost seven laps, behind the leading Peugeot.
Undaunted, the team would carry on. Drayson Racing would remain around the top-twenty-five throughout the first 100 laps of the race. By the time the leading Peugeot had completed 100 laps, Drayson Racing was down about sixteen laps to the leader and fighting to carry on.
The team would soldier on throughout the night. By the 200th lap of the race, Drayson Racing was mired down in 37th place overall. Problem-after-problem continued to delay the team in the pits. However, when they were out on track, the Judd-powered Lola would click off some impressive lap times.
Headed into the final couple of hours, all of the Peugeot 908s began to self-destruct one-by-one. This put Audi one-two-three in the running order. Drayson Racing was holding on trying to actually just to finish the race. The team was too far behind to be classified by the end, but the team's pride would be in finishing.
Audi would finish the 24 Hours of Le Mans with yet another victory, but in the most dominant fashion possible. Audi Sport would go on to finish one-two-three in the overall standings. From the elation of overall victory to the elation of merely finishing, Drayson Racing wouldn't win the race, or even set foot on the podium, but they would still be running at the end. Despite fuel pump and vibration issues throughout the race the team would complete 254 laps and would finish the race. Unfortunately, for all the team's efforts, they would end up not being classified at the end because they completed less than seventy percent of the laps the leading Audi would complete. In fact, by the end of the race, Drayson Racing would be down 143 laps to the leader.
After holding on to finish at Le Mans, Drayson Racing headed back to the United States to prepare for what was the fourth round of the American Le Mans Series, the 2010 Utah Grand Prix.
Held on the 11th of July, the Utah Grand Prix took place at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. Originally conceived as a personal playground for Larry Miller, the facility grew into an $85 million dollar complex. The 4.5 mile road course opened in 2006 and became one of the fastest road courses in North America. The 2010 race was the first of the season to run to the ALMS standard two-hour and forty-five minute time limit.
Drayson Racing appeared with a slightly-different driver line-up. Instead of Lord Drayson and Jonny Cocker, Cocker shared the car with Emanuele Pirro. This turned the team from gentlemen racers to fierce competitors. Right from the start of qualifying, the team was on the pace and looking to attack. Simon Pagenaud, in the Highcroft Racing HPD ARX entry would end up recording the fastest lap during qualifying. His best time was one minute and thirty-four seconds. Jonny Cocker wouldn't be shown up. He would lay down a lap only half a second slower and good enough to start the race 2nd. Chris Dyson was only one tenth slower in his own Lola but would have to start 3rd.
Right at the start, the number 1 Highcroft Racing HPD would be outrun down the long front stretch and would drop down the order. The Lola B086/10 of Intersport Racing would end up being able to come up from its 5th place starting position to take the lead. The higher altitude of the racing circuit would hurt the power of the normally aspirated cars. Intersport's turbo-charged Lola would have an advantage, and it showed. Drayson Racing would remain in 2nd.
Through the course of the first half-hour of the race, Drayson Racing remained in 2nd place. Then, on the 15th lap, its car was able to get inside the Lola of Intersport to take the lead. They would hold onto the lead through the next half-hour.
Drayson Racing would remain in the top-three all throughout the first hour and a half of the race. Heading into the final forty-five minutes of the race, the team was locked in a battle with the Highcroft Racing HPD for 1st. Each team would have a share of the lead. Unfortunately, once Highcroft assumed the lead with about forty minutes remaining, it would not let go of it.
After completing 91 laps, Simon Pagenaud would guide the Highcroft Racing car to the victory by nineteen seconds over Drayson Racing. Muscle Milk Team Cytosport would finish the race 3rd.
Over the course of the race, Drayson Racing would not merely compete in the race. They would prove to be pace-setters with Cocker and Pirro behind the wheel. Between the two drivers, Drayson Racing led 32 of the 91 laps completed. Pirro would even end up setting the fastest lap amongst the LMP1 competitors.
The fifth round of the American Le Mans Series season took place on the 24th of July. The race was a two hour and forty-five minute timed race of the short 1.53 mile road course at Lime Rock Park near Lakeville, Connecticut.
In preparation for the Northeast Grand Prix, Drayson Racing brought their Judd-powered Lola and Lord Drayson and Jonny Cocker as the team's drivers.
Heading into qualifying, rain had been falling on the track. However, just a few minutes into the LMP1 and LMPC qualifying session, the rain stopped. Although the session was only twenty minutes, the times would be better in the last few minutes as the track began to really dry out. Sure enough, ten minutes into the session, David Brabham began lapping the HPD ARX with times under one minute.
The drying track offered real difficulties, however. With the session being only twenty minutes in length, the course would still be quite slippery at points. Should someone push a little too hard they would find trouble waiting. This would end up happening to Jonny Cocker. With just four minutes left to go in the qualifying session, Cocker pushed a little too hard and went off at turn two and hit the tire wall. Fortunately for the team, they had already managed to record their fastest lap prior to going off. The damage was minimal and allowed the team to start the race from 4th overall.
In the morning warm-up before the start of the race, Drayson Racing had proven to overcome the little hiccup that struck them during qualifying. Cocker would record the second-fastest time in the warm-up with a lap of fifty seconds and seven tenths.
As the field prepared to start the race there was the threat of rain and thunderstorms. The temperature was very hot at 96 degrees. Heading into the first turn, Cocker made an impressive move and was able to slot himself into 2nd place behind Chris Dyson and his Mazda-powered Lola B09. Within three laps, Cocker had managed to assume the lead. Drayson Racing would go on to lead the race throughout the first twenty minutes, or so, of the race.
After a safety car period returned to green flag racing, Cocker's Lola B09 slowed to a stop in turn three. Cocker managed to get the car moving again but he would lose almost a minute in the process. This dropped Drayson Racing back to 4th, right where it had started the race. The team, concerned about the problem that brought the car to a halt, would have to try to fight for the lead all over again.
Mistakes; however, can cost a team as much as any mechanical problem. Jonny Cocker would bring the Lola into the pits to be serviced. Unfortunately, he would end up being serviced by too many. In an effort to remain on the lead lap the team had one too many crew members helping with driver assist. As a result, Cocker had to come back into the pits to serve a penalty. Besides the time it took to enter and leave the pits, twenty extra seconds was added to the stop.
After returning to the track, the problems that slowed the car earlier, initially, would again return after only forty-two minutes into the race. As a result of the troubles, the team would drop down the order. Problems continued to strike the team. Just shy of the completion of the first hour, Cocker would have to return to the pits to have the front suspension repaired. This would drop the team further down to 24th overall. More troubles would strike the team even before the first hour of the race had been completed. Shifting problems caused the team to have to remove the rear bodywork of the car and replace the steering wheel. The team would even end up replacing the car's ECU. All of the problems would only further drop the team down the order.
Muscle Milk Team Cytosport would end up completing 171 laps in their Porsche RS Spyder and would take the win. Patron Highcroft Racing would finish twenty-seven seconds behind in 2nd. Despite finishing 24th overall, Drayson Racing would almost finish on the podium in LMP1. Although the team led a small portion of the race, Drayson Racing would end up leaving Lime Rock without scoring a single point toward the ALMS Championship.
On the 7th of August, the ALMS arrived at Mid-Ohio for the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge, which was the sixth round of the championship. The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge would be another two hour and forty-five minute timed race.
Drayson Racing arrived with Lord Drayson and Jonny Cocker as its drivers for the timed event. From the very beginning of practice and qualifying, Drayson Racing appeared to be one of the teams to beat in LMP1. Cocker would absolutely impress during qualifying. Jonny Cocker would end up lapping the 2.4 mile road course in one minute and ten seconds and would earn Drayson Racing its first ALMS pole. Chris Dyson, of Dyson Racing, would record the second-fastest time with a lap nine tenths slower than Cocker's best time. Simon Pagenaud would end up slotting Highcroft Racing onto the starting grid in 3rd with a lap over a second slower than Cocker.
Under partly sunny skies, the race got underway. Lord Paul Drayson was behind the wheel at the start of the race. Going through the first car of the race, Drayson would lose the lead. A couple of laps into the race, Drayson would go off course at turn two. The excursion at turn two would cause Drayson to slip down the order to 4th overall.
Lord Drayson would remain 4th throughout most of the first forty minutes of the race. However, forty-five minutes into the race, Drayson would again be off course, but at turn ten. Unfortunately, Drayson got together with a GTC Porsche 911 and came to a rest off course. The tangle with the Porsche would end up causing the team to slip all the way down the order and out of the race.
Once again, the team had an incredibly fast car, but troubles during the race would ruin the promise showed during practice and qualifying. This would make it two races in a row in which Drayson Racing would leave an event not having scored any points toward the ALMS Championship.
The team needed to earn some good results over the three remaining races on the ALMS calendar if the team wanted to have a shot at the podium in the championship. The team's first opportunity to turn things around would come at one of the more popular venues on the ALMS calendar.
On August 22nd, the ALMS arrived in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the American Le Mans Series powered by eStar race at Road America. At a little over 4.0 miles in length, Road America was one of the longest tracks in North America and that the ALMS raced upon. Famous for the climb up the hill on the start/finish straight and for the 'kink' on its back-stretch, Road America routinely could accommodate more than 150,000 people and has always been a favorite with teams, drivers and fans.
Drayson Racing arrived at Road America with its usual drivers, Lord Drayson and Jonny Cocker. Proving to be undaunted by how the season had gone to that point, Jonny Cocker went out in qualifying and was on an absolute tear.
Ten minutes in the qualifying session, Cocker lowered the bar with the best overall time in qualifying, but he wasn't done. Just in case any other competitor had thoughts of taking the pole, Cocker kept lowering the bar lower and lower. The Brit would end up making it two poles in a row after he set a fastest lap of one minute and forty-nine seconds. The gap between himself and Guy Smith in the 2nd place Mazda-powered Lola was over a second. Klaus Graf recorded the third-fastest time with a time almost two seconds slower.
Though happy, Drayson Racing would be rather reserved after qualifying. Many times throughout the season the team had proven to be one of the fastest cars on the track only to have it all fall apart during the actual race. Perhaps this race would be different for the team.
The race began at two in afternoon under mostly sunny skies and an air temperature in the low 80s. Lord Drayson would start the race behind the wheel and would be unable to hold onto the lead throughout the course of the first lap of the race. The team would end up slipping down to 4th overall, but were running without any problems. Drayson would settle into a nice pace and would remain in 4th through the first 10 laps of the race. Just inside the completion of the first hour, Drayson was running 5th.
Yellow flags flew about an hour and twenty minutes into the race. During the safety car period Drayson would bring the car into the pits for tires, fuel and a driver change. Cocker was in behind the wheel and handed the task of clawing back up the order after falling down from starting the race on the pole.
Two hours into the race, Cocker was able to come all the way back up into the lead after passing Klaus Graf going into turn one. With forty-five minutes remaining in the race, Cocker led by five seconds over the field. A couple of minutes later, Jonny would record the fastest lap of the race. With only thirty minutes remaining Cocker increased his advantage to over twenty seconds over Guy Smith. Cocker would continue to reset the fastest lap of the race. The Brit was on the charge.
Cocker pitted with only about twenty minutes left in the race. He had proven he had the top-end speed but was slotted back in 4th after the stop. This would set the stage for one of the most impressive finishes in ALMS history.
Graf continued to push while in the front. However, fuel was an issue for the Muscle Milk Team. David Brabham was sitting 2nd followed by Guy Smith and Jonny Cocker. Graf was out front of the group by five seconds, but was being chased down by almost two seconds per lap. With five minutes left in the race, Cocker would go underneath Smith at turn five to take over 3rd. He and David Brabham would then get hung up in slower GT traffic. This caused Cocker to reset his timing for trying to overtake Brabham in the HPD ARX. As he had with Smith, Cocker used turn five to his advantage and was able to get by the HPD. Immediately, Cocker set sail after Graf, but it was the final lap.
Only a couple of corners separated Graf from the victory, but he would end up needing about a half gallon more gas in the tank. Just prior to the final right-hander that led to the start/finish straight, the Porsche Spyder began struggling to pick up fuel and dropped off the pace. This allowed Cocker to catch up hand-over-fist. Cocker would pass Graf before the final right-hander and would power up the hill to take the team's first overall victory!
Just like that, Drayson Racing was back in the ALMS Championship. The result helped move the team up inside the top-five in the ALMS Championship with two more rounds remaining in the season.
Drayson Racing had momentum swinging in its favor after the team's first-ever victory at Road America at the end of August. One week later, the team had the opportunity to keep the momentum rolling in their favor at the Grand Prix of Mosport.
Even though it is located across the border in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, the Grand Prix of Mosport was the eighth, and second-to-last round of the ALMS Championship. Though it was the next-to-last race of the ALMS season, Drayson Racing still had a few more races on its calendar for 2010.
Unlike the previous couple of races, the pairing of Drayson and Cocker would not be the fastest among the LMP1 competitors. During the twenty minute qualifying session Klaus Graf would end up setting the fastest lap around Mosport's 2.54 mile road course. His best time was one minute and six seconds. Chris Dyson, of the Dyson Racing Team, would end up setting the second-fastest time in qualifying. The margin between Dyson's and Graf's time was less than two tenths of a second. Simon Pagenaud would put the Highcroft Racing HPD ARX on the starting grid in 3rd with a time only eight hundredths of a second slower than Dyson's time. Cocker's best time wasn't too far off the pace. His best time was only a half second slower than Graf's pole time.
While the momentum had swung in the team's favor, the momentum swing would end up clobbering one of the GT cars, sending it violently into the barriers along the back-stretch.
The cars roared away at the start of the race. Drayson and Highcroft Racing would receive a bump up the grid when Dyson Racing would have to change tires before the start of the race. Despite the help from Dyson, Lord Drayson would allow Tony Burgess, in the AER-powered Lola, to get by into 3rd. Drayson would drop down one more place, but would find comfortable running at the tail-end of the LMP1 field.
Twenty minutes into the race, Drayson would come under fire from one of the LMPC entries and would end up slipping back another position. Meanwhile, the Muscle Milk Porsche Spyder continued on in the lead, chased by the Highcroft HPD.
Just under fifty minutes into the race, Drayson would make an error going into turn two too wide. He would go off the track backward and would barely touch the tires. He would get back on track and carry on. As a result of the spin, Drayson would bring the car into the pits. The stop would be a lengthy one. Besides changing drivers, the team would take extra time cleaning out the intake filters, putting on new tires and refueling the car. Upon re-emerging from the pits, the team had dropped to 15th overall. This put pressure on Cocker to push hard to try and make up for the lost positions. Cocker would turn the best lap for the car, and for the entire field, within the first hour of his time behind the wheel. He would, perhaps, not take the extra time to make sure he was careful in his quest to climb back up the order. The number 48 GTC Porsche would be poor recipient of Cocker's lack of situational awareness.
One minute before the race reached the two hour mark the yellow flags were flown once again. Luke Hines, in the number 48 ORBIT/Paul Miller Racing Porsche, sat in the middle of the back-straight with incredible heavy damage to the 911 GT3. It was apparent that Cocker failed to clear Hines with enough space as Jonny was trying to slice his way amongst slower traffic. Cocker's misjudgment led to Luke being sent hard into the ARMCO barrier along the track. The impact was so severe that over 60 yards of the guardrail was demolished in the crash. This brought out the red flag with only about twenty minutes remaining. The rest of the field had circulated the track under yellow conditions for over twenty minutes.
After a lengthy red flag period the officials were notified that it would take too long for the crews to try and repair the guardrail along the track. As a result, the officials decided to end the race right where it was stopped. Resumed under caution, the cars followed the safety car out for one final yellow/checkered flag lap. Because of his error, Cocker was handed a penalty by the officials. The team was demoted to last position amongst the cars on the same lap as Drayson Racing at the time of the accident. As a result of the penalty, Drayson Racing dropped from 4th overall to 6th in the overall standings.
Even though the team was demoted at the end of the race the team still earned valuable points toward the ALMS Championship. However, the team had little time to dwell upon the mistake. The team needed to pack everything and prepare to head back across the 'Pond' to take part in the last round of the Le Mans Series and the first round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Championship.
Lord Drayson was back on home soil preparing for the 1000km of Silverstone on the 12th of September. This was the fifth, and final, round of the Le Mans Series Championship, but it was the first round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Championship that was made up of three rounds, which included Silverstone, Road Atlanta and Zhuhai.
The race marked the third team all season Drayson Racing would go up against Peugeot Sport and their dominant diesel-powered 908 HDi FAP. It would also be the second time the team would also have to face Le Mans champions Audi Sport. The 1000km race, itself, would provide all of the teams with a first. It would be the first time the Le Mans Series competitors would take part in a race on the new 'Arena' configuration. The new 'Arena' configuration increased the length of the track by a half of a mile as the redesigned track utilized the infield section of the Silverstone complex.
Drayson Racing came to Silverstone with its Judd-powered Lola and its two usual drivers Lord Paul Drayson and fellow-Brit Jonny Cocker. Despite the presence of the diesel-powered machines, Jonny Cocker impressed during qualifying.
Allan McNish, in Audi number 7, would record the fastest time of the new 3.66 mile road circuit. His time was one minute and forty-three seconds. The second Audi R15, car 8, would start the race 2nd after recording a time just over a half a second slower than McNish's best. Nicolas Minassian would put the Team Peugeot on the grid in 3rd with a time one second slower than Allan's. Cocker's best time was close considering the torque advantage offered by the diesels over the petrol-powered cars. Cocker kept his foot on it and completed a courageous lap. His time was less than three seconds slower than the pole-sitters time and was good enough to start the race 7th overall.
Wanting to put their best foot forward in the race, Cocker started behind the wheel. Starting under partly sunny skies, Cocker looked for the sun to shine on the team. He looked to put the team in a good position at the very start. Unfortunately, he would end up being edged out by Neel Jani and would drop to 8th overall. Cocker got into a comfortable pace sitting in 8th place. After 5 laps, Cocker was down fourteen seconds to the leader. He was chasing Jani for 7th. Just three tenths of a second separated the two. Cocker had space behind him as he had a gap of seven seconds in-hand over Vanina Ickx in the Lola-Aston Martin.
On the 6th lap of the race, Cocker would get a run on Jani and would re-take 7th position. Jani would lose ground to Cocker. On the 16th lap of the race, everyone behind McNish on the track would get promoted by one when his R15 Plus would come to a stop out on the course.
Forty minutes into the race, Cocker had been re-passed for 6th place by Jani and would end up slipping back slightly. After making a pit-stop, Cocker would go a lap down, and, would drop further down the order as LMP2 cars began to get by Jonny. After pit stops cycled through, and after an hour of racing, Drayson Racing was back up to 6th overall and chasing the LMP2 Strakka Racing entry.
For the better part of a half-hour Jonny Cocker ran in the 5th position comfortable lapping twenty seconds in the front of the 6th place car. The Brit would stop for fuel, tires and a driver change on the 47th lap of the race. The former Minister of Science, Lord Paul Drayson, was in behind the wheel of the Lola. He would re-enter the fray in 12th.
Being a gentleman racer, Drayson's pace was such that he could not quite keep up with some of the other LMP1 runners. As a result, he would slowly slip down the order.
Nicolas Minassian, and British driver Anthony Davidson, would go on to claim the victory having completed the 1000km in front of its 908 cousin driven by Nicola Lapierre and Stephane Sarrazin for Team Oreca Matmut. Rinaldo Capello and Timo Bernhard would finish the race 3rd in their Audi R15 Plus. Finishing the race 13 laps down, Drayson would cross the line 11th overall and 8th in LMP1. All-in-all, the trip across the Atlantic was rather fruitful, especially since a number of the LMP1 cars that finished in front of the team would not compete in any of the other Intercontinental Le Mans Cup rounds.
The team once again packed up and prepared to head back across the Atlantic to get ready for what would be the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and the final round of the American Le Mans Series Championship.
The final round of the American Le Mans Series was one of the more famous races in all of North America, especially endurance racing. Drayson Racing arrived in Braselton, Georgia for the 'Petit Le Mans'.
The 2.54 mile road course always had a storied history with the American Le Mans Series. The new series held its first race at the track and has become a source of attraction for a number of foreign entries throughout the years. It was fitting the race was chosen to be the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Championship.
The Petit Le Mans remains to be one of the longer races on the calendar. Racing 1000 miles, instead of kilometers, the race usually pushes the ten-hour time limit. The field for the 2010 edition of the race featured the largest field (45 cars) for any racing series in almost a decade. The Petit Le Mans also has the distinction of being just one of two races where the winner receives an automatic invitation to the next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Drayson Racing invited Emanuele Pirro back to its driver line-up for the race. Immediately, in practice, Pirro would set the fastest lap for the Judd-powered Lola in the mixed damp and dry conditions. However, during practice a prototype spun out and came to a rest right in the middle of the track right in front of Pirro. With little time to react Pirro turned the Lola sideways and struck the other prototype at about 100 mph. The hit caused injuries to Pirro, which led to him sitting out the race. This put the race effort squarely on the shoulders of Drayson and Cocker.
Qualifying for LMP1, LMP2 and LMPC was extended five minutes to twenty-five minutes. Anthony Davidson would record the fastest lap on the 2.54 mile road course. His time of one minute and seven seconds ensured the Brit would take his first-ever American Le Mans Series pole. This helped to keep Cocker's record of being the only driver in ALMS to record two poles in the season intact. Pedro Lamy, in the second Peugeot 908, would set the second-fastest time. Benoit Treluyer would record the third-fastest time in the number 9 Audi Sport R15 Plus. Drayson Racing suffered from problems throughout practice, including shifting issues. The team would; therefore, end up starting the race from 40th overall having set no time in qualifying.
The race began in the late-morning hours on September 30th under wonderfully sunny skies. Jonny Cocker was given the task of threading the Lola through the traffic and back in contact with the LMP1 field. After the 1st lap of the race, Cocker was up to 24th overall. By the 4th lap, Jonny was able to make his way to 10th overall! He would continue to move forward as well. With the help of a yellow, and pit-stops by some of the front-runners, Cocker was running 3rd by the 21st lap of the race.
An hour and a half into the race, Cocker pitted for tires, fuel and a driver change. He had given up 5th place overall to come into the pits. Lord Drayson would take over behind the wheel and re-enter the race in 7th.
Two and a half hours into the race the yellow flags flew because of Andre Lotterer going off course through the esses. Drayson sat comfortably in 8th position overall. Just shy of three hours into the race, Drayson returned to the pits for tires, fuel and another driver change. Jonny Cocker resumed control behind the wheel. Over the next one and a half hours, Cocker would maintain a running position between 6th and 8th place. He would pit and Drayson would take over again behind the wheel.
Despite a stop-and-go penalty, the team continued on inside the top-ten overall. Six hours into the running, Cocker was back behind the wheel. With 100 laps remaining, Drayson Racing was running 8th overall.
In other instances, Drayson Racing had proven to be fast but weren't matched with endurance. Or, the team would not have the pace but would have the reliability. In the case of Petit Le Mans, the team had both. Despite the absence of Pirro, Drayson and Cocker managed to maintain good speed and had reliability to boot. Team Peugeot would go on to finish the race 1st and 2nd. Audi's number 7 had the lead at times but only managed to finish the race 3rd. Cocker pushed the car until the end. The team would be rewarded for their efforts throughout the season as they would finish the race 8th overall and 6th in class!
The fantastic result at Road Atlanta would help Drayson Racing's resurgence in the ALMS standings. The twenty-six points the team earned in its final race of the season ensured the team would end up coming all the way back from the bottom of standings to finish 3rd in the LMP1 standings. Due to the absence of Team Oreca Matmut at Petit Le Mans, Drayson Racing moved into 3rd in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup standings as well.
Only one more race remained on the team's calendar for 2010, but it was half-way around the world in China.
The final race of Drayson Racing's season, and the final round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Championship, took place on the 7th of November at the Zhuhai International Circuit in Zhuhai, China.
The team travelled to the 2.68 mile road course with Lord Drayson and Jonny Cocker as its pilots. Surprisingly slow in pace, the track would favor the torque generated by the mighty diesel engines of Peugeot and Audi. Though the diesels of Peugeot and Audi were present, Drayson was without a whole lot of competition. Qualifying would make this fact rather evident. Team Peugeot would qualify one-two, just as it had at Road Atlanta. Audi would then qualify 3rd and 4th. The pole-time set by the number 2 Peugeot was one minute and twenty-one seconds. Even though qualifying suffered from bouts of rain, Drayson Racing's best time was one minute and twenty-eight, almost twenty-nine seconds. The difference was over eight seconds. The petrol-powered car just could not pull the gears quite like the diesels. Despite the performance struggles, Drayson Racing would start the race 5th.
Even though there was a lack for competition around them, the team still had to deal with the main threat—finishing the race. Right from the very start of the race, the best Drayson Racing could do was follow. This was fine for the team since it could only finish 3rd in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Championship. They had no hope of being able to finish higher. Therefore, the team settled in to a race pace and enjoyed the sunny skies, which the area hadn't seen too much of over the previous couple of days.
Throughout the first half of the race, the team ran in 5th place and had really good pace. Then the troubles began. The car began to suffer from a misfire, which mystified the crews. The source of the problem could not be found. Lap-after-lap began to slip by the team. Should they fail to finish the race the team was in jeopardy of failing to finish 3rd in the ILMC Championship.
After a long time in the pits, the source of the misfire was found. It was nothing mechanical, but electrical. The crew had to find the right wire that was causing the disruption to the engine. Once they did, Lord Drayson took over behind the wheel for the remaining laps of the race.
At almost 100 laps down, the team would end up the race not classified in the results. This was due to having completed too few laps. But, they would see the checkered flag nonetheless. This meant Drayson Racing finished 3rd behind Peugeot and Audi in the inaugural Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Championship.
Although a difficult season, Drayson Racing achieved many highlights in its first season in LMP1. They proved to be fast at just about every round of the ALMS and would be the only team to score two pole-positions throughout the season. They would also end up scoring their first-ever ALMS victory at Road America, which; therefore, meant the team scored a victory also in its first season in LMP1 as well. Drayson Racing would end up 3rd in both of the championships in which the team entered. They were 3rd in the American Le Mans Series and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Championship.
All-in-all, it could be said the team met, and even exceeded, its expectations coming into the season. Having done so, the team is able to look ahead to 2011 with confidence.
Having always been a leader in green racing ever since its inception over four years ago Drayson Racing, led by the vision of Lord Paul Drayson, has always been looking into newer, cleaner technology in automotive technology. Therefore, it was little surprise when Lord Drayson announced in February of 2011 the team would take part in the new EVCUP series. It will be the world's first electric racing series. Lord Drayson stated during the announcement: 'The team at EVCUP have taken a bold step forward to create the world's first electric racing series. As one of the world's leading green motorsport teams, we want to be a part of it and we want to win it!' Drayson Racing