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Paul Drayson to Debut Vantage GT2 Programme at La Sarthe
The Automobile Club De L'Ouest (ACO), official sanctioning body of the 24 Heures du Mans, has named Drayson Racing as one of only 14 LM GT2 class programmes worldwide to be selected to compete in this year's 77th running of the French 24 hour event. The 13-14 June race is the first visit by Drayson Racing to the world's most famous sports car race and the next step in a lifelong dream of owner/driver Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) to win the classic event. Drayson will share the No. 87 Aston Martin Vantage GT2 with longtime co- driver and young, British hot shot Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK). The third driver in the Michelin Tyre-shod Aston Martin will be announced at a later date.
Drayson Racing will represent Aston Martin Racing at the 24 Heures du Mans in 2009 The legendary, twice-around the clock race will also be the debut of the Aston Martin Vantage GT2 at Le Mans. The invitation for the Official Partner Team of Aston Martin Racing owned by Paul and Elspeth Drayson is particularly poignant coming in 2009. This year's event marks the 50th Anniversary of Aston Martin's overall win in the Le Mans 24 Hours. In 1959, Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori drove an Aston Martin DBR1 to immortality by bettering the highly favoured Ferrari operation. The win established Aston Martin as one of the great motoring marques in history. In further celebration of this remarkable achievement, Aston Martin Racing will have entries in three of the four classes as it returns to the LM P1 class for the first time in over a decade and has cars defending its LM GT1 class title. Drayson Racing's Vantage GT2 is the sole representative of Aston Martin Racing in the road car-based class. The 2009 invitees were selected from one of the largest entry lists in the event's long history. 82 teams entered the French classic in hopes of earning one of only 55 spots to compete on the famous 8.476 mile- long Circuit De La Sarthe. Ten "reserve" cars have also been pre-selected should there be a withdrawal from the 55 guaranteed positions.
While a first visit to Le Mans for the organisation and its regular aces Drayson and Cocker, the intricacies of Le Mans are no stranger to Team Manager Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA). White led his White Lightning Racing LM GT2, then known simply as GT, team from the class pole position to victory here in both 2003 and 2004. A second-place in 2005 marks a third podium finish in four Le Mans starts for White-managed operations.
Drayson Racing will compete in the 12 Hours of Sebring, the American Le Mans Series season- opener, on 21 March. They will follow with the Le Mans Series season-premiere in Barcelona, Spain on 5 April. 10 May will see the final pre-Le Mans race with the 1,000 Km event on the historic Spa- Franchorchamps' circuit in Belgium.
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. 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 honoured and delighted that Drayson Racing has been selected to compete in the world's greatest motor race. Doing so in an Aston Martin in the 50th anniversary year of their historic victory at Le Mans is a dream come true."
Dale White, Team Manager: "There are not words to describe how happy I am right now. When I first met Paul, the first thing he told me was that racing at Le Mans was his objective; to win Le Mans his dream. Receiving the invitation from the ACO to race in this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans is the next step in helping Paul achieve his dream. When you think about the importance of this event and the magnitude of representing Aston Martin in the GT2 class; it is all very, very exciting. There is a lot of work ahead of us but knowing we are going to be racing in Le Mans with the Vantage GT2 and Michelin makes all the long hours worth the effort."
Jonny Cocker, Driver: "This really is fantastic news for everyone involved in the team, especially Paul, having worked so hard to earn the right to race at the LM24! I can't even describe how much I'm looking forward to the race! I have been visiting Le Mans for the past four years to spectate, always thinking 'one day'. It's hard to believe that I'm going to be there racing this year alongside so many other great teams and drivers. I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of this and, in particular, Paul and Elspeth for giving me the opportunity!"