Drayson Racing have today announced the signing of sportscar star Emanuele Pirro as their third driver for the three endurance races the team will contest this year.

The Italian, already a five time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, will join the team's regular drivers Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker for the 78th running of the endurance race in June, as well as the endurance races of the American Le Mans Series at Sebring and Road Atlanta.

Pirro's presence in Drayson's team, co-owned by Paul and his wife Elspeth, marks the first time he will drive for a privateer team on over a decade, having entered Le Mans since 1999 in Audi supported teams before moving to an off-track role for the manufacturer last year.

“It is true, fortunately, I drove most of my career for works teams,” says Pirro of the change. “I am expecting the same from Drayson Racing with the difference that there will probably be less spare parts sitting in their garage and less people in their computer room!”

“When I received the offer from Drayson Racing it didn’t take long to realise that it was a great opportunity. I met Paul Drayson during the ALMS season [in 2008]. First I was attracted by his life story, rather unusual for a racing driver, then I found a very interesting person with whom I share a lot of things and thoughts not only concerning the motor racing world.”

“I am looking forward to driving with him and with Jonny Cocker, a true young talent. I am really looking forward to racing again in Sebring, Le Mans and Petit and meeting again the many fans that have been supporting me so much in the past years. I would also like to thank Audi for giving me the permission to drive for Drayson Racing.”

“It’s just brilliant news! I am really excited about this,” said an ebullient Paul Drayson. “I met Emanuele during the 2008 ALMS championship and we got on really well from the start, particularly when swapping flying stories. I am just delighted to be racing with him this year. He is such a world class talent and such a nice guy; pre-race driver briefings were never the same without Emanuele!”

“Most of all though, his huge experience and positive personality will lift the whole expectation and performance of the team, especially during the big three races of the year at Sebring, Le Mans and Petit.”

Pirro will also help the team test their Lola-Judd LMP1 car ahead of the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17-20, which will open a full ALMS season for Drayson and Cocker ending with Pirro's return to the team on American soil for Petit Le Mans on October 2.