Drayson Racing topped off a successful year of racing by winning the Michelin Green-X Challenge in the second race at the Asian Le Mans Series, held at the Okayama circuit in Japan.
The Anglo-American team, once more running their Lola-Judd P1 car, enjoyed good performance throughout the one weekend championship, which was run with qualifying on Friday and one race on each day over the weekend.
Driver Jonny Cocker ran the fastest qualifying lap (1:19.143) on Friday, before adding the fastest laps in both of the three hour races (Saturday 1:21.735, Sunday 1:20.561). The results the team recorded were promising, but perhaps tinged with a feeling of what could have been.
Cocker took advantage of his pole position in the first race to take the early lead, before a faulty headlight forced the team to call the car into the pits for a new nose section, a procedure that took long enough to see the team three laps behind when the Yorkshireman returned to the track. Paul Drayson eventually finished sixth.
The team was similarly dominant at the beginning of the Sunday race, with the works Aston Martin, driven by Stefan Mucke and Harold Primat, taking 20 minutes before it moved past Cocker into the lead. Owner-driver Paul Drayson was able to maintain a strong position for much of the middle hour of the race before handing the car back to Cocker for the final hour. Taking the car over in fifth he was able to catch the Kolles Audi R10, managing to snatch fourth from Oliver Jarvis in the dying minutes of the race to become the highest finishing privateer entry in a field which also included entrants from ORECA and Pescarolo.
The second race also saw the award of the Green-X Challenge for the most economical and competitive drive, with the team recognising the winning of the award as the accomplishment of one of the main objectives of the team.
“This is a perfect end to Drayson Racing’s first season,” said team co-owner Elspeth Drayson. “Winning the Michelin ® Green X Challenge ® is a major accomplishment that tops off an excellent weekend. Pole, two fastest laps and top-placed privateer team demonstrates the progress the team has made in just three LMP1 races”
Dale White, the team manager echoed those sentiments. “To win the Michelin ® Green X Challenge ® is just huge for us! This has been our goal and one of the reasons we moved to the LMP1 class. I am so happy for Paul, Elspeth and the entire team. We knew this was in us as a team. We know we have a lot more too.”
It is clear that the team, which is scheduled to run the entire American Le Mans Series season in 2010 feels they has a successful year ahead of them, with the team and drivers improving every race.
“I really felt I stepped up a gear during my stint today and got into the zone,” Paul Drayson enthuses. “I now feel more clinical in dealing with the GT traffic and so I was able to maintain a quick pace with zero mistakes.”
The 2010 ALMS season begins on March 20th with the 12 Hours of Sebring.