Drayson Racing Announces 2-Time Le Mans Series Champ Rob Bell to Sebring Lineup
Aston Martin GT2 Programme to Run Michelin Tyres in 2009
Further strengthening its already impressive international sports car racing programme, Drayson Racing announced two exciting additions to its 2009 effort today. The Official Partner Team of Aston Martin Racing adds two-time defending Le Mans Series GT2 class Driver Champion Rob Bell to the driver lineup for the American Le Mans Series endurance races.
Bell, a resident of St Helens, England, will join owner/driver Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) behind the wheel of the No. 007 Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT2 at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on 21 March and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on 26 September. Furthermore, the Dale White-managed team will join the elite group of operations campaigning the Michelin Pilot Racing Slick in 2009. The official partnership with the world's leader in tyres encompasses both the American Le Mans Series and Le Mans Series efforts of Drayson Racing.
Since coming to sports car racing in 2005, Bell has left an impression in the road car-based GT2 class winning the last two Le Mans Series GT2 Driver Championships ('07, '08). In '07, Bell had two race wins and two pole positions driving for Virgo Motorsport and finished fifth in the LM GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Panoz. Bell retained his Le Mans Series title in '08 with four wins and four pole positions. Last season, he made his American Le Mans Series debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring driving in the GT2 class. He finished seventh at Sebring and made two more starts in North America at Road America and Detroit.
While best known as a Ferrari ace in recent seasons, Bell's earliest sports car racing successes came behind the wheel of an Aston Martin. He drove a GT1 class DB9R to his first GT victory at the daunting 1000km/Six Hours of Nürburgring in 2005. Prior to his fulltime move to sports car racing, Bell won the 2001 and 2002 Formula Renault Winter Championship and finished as the highest-placed British driver (fourth) in the British Formula Ford Championship in '01. In 2000, he won the prestigious Ford Festival World Cup. Bell began his career racing Cadet karts in 1990 earning the British Junior Championship.
The likeable Brit will be a direct competitor to the No. 87 Aston Martin Vantage GT2 in which Drayson and Cocker will race throughout the five-race Le Mans Series schedule.
The addition of Michelin as an official partner is another impressive step forward for the team. Michelin of Europe will supply tyres to Drayson Racing for the full Le Mans Series schedule as well as its three race American Le Mans Series schedule (Sebring, Petit Le Mans and the Monterey Sports Car Championships). It marks the first full season endeavor for Michelin to outfit an Aston Martin Vantage GT2 in the Le Mans Series and the first time Michelin has supplied a GT2- class tyre for the Vantage in the American Le Mans Series. The team will assist Michelin in the tyre's development. Michelin will also be fitted to the Drayson Aston Martin should the team receive an invitation to compete in its first 24 Hours of Le Mans. Invitations will be announced for Le Mans on 26 February.
Drayson Racing, owned by Paul Drayson, a member of the United Kingdom Parliament's House of Lords and the present Minister of Science and Innovation in the UK Government, has long been dedicated to "green", environmental causes. Having successfully competed in 2008 running the latest 'Second Generation' cellulosic E85 Bio-Ethanol fuel, the team will again fuel the Aston Martin V8 with E85 in the American Le Mans Series. Among the 2008 achievements, Drayson finished second in the inaugural Green Challenge at the Petit Le Mans highlighting the team's efforts to advance environmentally responsible automotive technologies. Drayson Racing has placed equal importance on winning the Michelin® Green X® Challenge Award in American Le Mans Series and the Michelin Energy Endurance Challenge in the Le Mans Series as it has on taking its first international race victory.
QuotesPaul Drayson, Owner/Driver: "I am delighted with the progress that Dale and the team are making, underlined by these two announcements today. I'm pleased to welcome Rob Bell to Drayson Racing and look forward to racing with him at Sebring and Petit Le Mans. I'm sure Jonny, Rob and I will work very well together. The tyre partnership with Michelin is great news and will further enhance our competitiveness."
Dale White, Team Manager: "This announcement marks two major steps forward for Drayson Racing. We have been working very hard to raise the entire scope of the organisation. The addition of Rob Bell not only is an important part of that effort but it also proves we are making the right moves. You do not attract the caliber of driver that Rob is unless you can give him a chance to win races. One of the critical parts to winning races is having the right tyre. There is no doubt that Michelin is the right tyre. My personal relationship with Michelin goes back a long time. We have won a lot of races together and I look forward to winning more with the Aston Martin Vantage GT2 riding on Michelin Pilot tyres. With these two announcements I believe we have reached a milestone for Drayson Racing today."
Rob Bell, Driver: "I would like to thank Lord and Lady Drayson and Dale White for this opportunity. It's great to be a part of a new team and for such an amazing event as Sebring. My first-ever GT race was in a DBRS9 in 2005. I won on that occasion with Darren Turner, so I have fond memories of driving an Aston. I know AMR has been busy over the last year developing the Vantage GT2 and I'm looking forward to seeing how far it has come. I'm also looking forward to driving alongside Paul and Jonny, whom I have seen develop as a stronger pairing since their British GT days. I know some of the guys in the team and Dale bring a huge amount of know how, so I hope I can also bring something extra to the table. If we keep out of trouble and have a bit of luck it would be great to be on the podium with three British drivers in an Aston."
Matthieu Bonardel, Director 4 Wheels Racing Activities, Michelin: "Michelin is honored and enthusiastic to start a partnership this season with Drayson Racing in both European and American prestigious endurance races. To have the Aston Martin Vantage GT2 joining today the family of cars racing on our tires perfectly fits our philosophy to support competitive teams, adapt our tires to all vehicles and optimize our preparation for Le Mans."