LMS Drayson Overcomes Pit Lane Start

 to Take 8th in Barcelona

Drayson Racing had to dig deep within itself early in the 1,000 Km of Cataluña just to start their first Le Mans Series event on Sunday. However, the chequered flag would fall with the No. 87 Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT2 of Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) solidly within the Top 10 of the LM GT2 class. The Official Partner Team of Aston Martin Racing finished eighth in their Series debut here at Barcelona's Circuit de Cataluña on the shoulders of a nearly flawless race both on track and in the pits.

The race did not start well for Drayson Racing; in fact, it nearly did not start at all. Cocker pulled from pit lane to join the rest of the field on the formation lap just to have the engine stall exiting turn one. Le Mans Series rules - as created by the Automobile Club De L'Ouest (ACO), official sanctioning body of the 24 Heures du Mans - forbid anyone but the driver working on the car outside of the team's pit box. With car chief Rob Boakes and AMR engineer Andrew Jacks advising via radio with Cocker, the young Brit was able isolate and affect a repair on a sensor in the V8's air box. The penalty for failure to complete the formation lap is to start from pit lane. Once the full field had passed, Cocker joined the race in last place. From starting with a 35 second deficit, Drayson Racing was able to work itself back into the LM GT2 Top 10 quickly. A key moment came early as team manager Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA) called for "fuel only" on the No. 87's first pit stop. That helped overcame the remaining gap and Cocker, and his double-stinted Michelin tyres, moved into the Top 10 within the first 15 minutes of the race. Drayson, continuing Cocker's work, moved the Vantage GT2 as high as seventh late in the race. However, a final hour stop for fuel dropped the team to their final location on the result sheet. A successful first showing nonetheless for the programme.

The eighth-place finish earns the UK-based team its first point in the LM GT2 championship. For 1,000 Km events, the five-race schedule pays one point to eighth- place in each class.

It was a good day for Aston Martin Racing as the No. 007 LMP1 "works" team scored that programme's first victory in its debut event.

An official Le Mans Series test at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans, France on 25-26 April will be the next destination for Drayson Racing. The second round of the Le Mans Series, the 1,000 Km of Spa- Franchorchamps in Belgium, is scheduled for 10 May.

QuotesLady Drayson, Owner: "We are delighted to finish eighth in our European debut. After the slightly nerve- wracking start to have a relatively event free and smooth race was very gratifying. This builds our confidence and we look forward to moving on to Spa."

Paul Drayson, Driver/Owner: "The most fun I've had in a race car. Really pleased with our result today. The Team did an excellent job and it was great to have a trouble free race with no contact and no reliability problems which meant I could settle in and enjoy myself reeling off the laps. The car was as good after six hours as it was at the start and this is a massive step forwards towards the Le Mans 24 Hours."

Jonny Cocker, Driver: "A little bit scary at the start really with the issue. I accelerated out of the pit lane and when I went to get back on the gas out of the first corner there was no throttle. That was a bit of a worry. It would start and then just shut-off straight away. I was trying my best to keep the marshals from pulling me off the circuit and out of the race. I think there were about eight guys at one point trying to pull the car while I was hard on the brakes. I guess it was a sensor in the air box and we got that straightened away. The car was really quite quick. We could run near the pace of the leaders. That's really encouraging. We just need to work on ultimate pace. We have learned a lot with six hours of running in such a close and competitive championship. It was a good race and nice to get a finish. I felt like the car was as strong at the end as it was at the beginning. We are definitely getting there. It feels like now we can take part in a race."

Dale White, Team Manager: "I guess some teams and drivers would give up if the car stopped before reaching turn two on the formation lap; not our guys. Jonny was doing everything he could to keep the car in the race and he got his hands dirty doing it. Paul showed his legendary determination and kept us in the fight. The crew guys dug in their heels and fought each and every pit stop. You never give up. We'll take these first two races [12 Hours of Sebring and Cataluña] and move on to Spa with a good feeling."

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