Drayson-Barwell confirm ALMS entry Aston Martin is returning to the American Le Mans Series grid on a full-time basis in 2008 with a pioneering GT2 effort that enhances the Series' platform of alternative energy usage. Drayson-Barwell is a partnership between Lord Drayson, a former high-ranking member of Britain's House of Lords, and GT and Touring Car title-winning outfit Barwell Motorsport.
The joint venture is an Official Partner Team of Aston Martin Racing and will enter the first Aston Martin Vantage (chassis 001) to be built by Aston Martin Racing. Drayson-Barwell will work exclusively with Aston Martin Racing on the development of the bio-ethanol powered GT2 car. In 2007 Barwell and Paul Drayson successfully pioneered the use of the fuel in the British GT series, and this environmental leadership in motorsport will continue. The Vantage GT2 car will run on bio-ethanol fuel in the American Le Mans Series.
The GT challenger will compete alongside other prestigious marques such as Ferrari, Porsche, Panoz, Dodge and Ford in a wide-open GT2 class. The Drayson-Barwell Aston Martin Vantage will run in the familiar Aston Martin Racing Green color scheme made popular by the works team.
Lord Drayson is a former Government Minister, who has taken a leave of absence to pursue his dream of competing in Le Mans-style racing and ultimately the Le Mans 24 Hours in a 'Green' race car. Together with Barwell Motorsport, he has now formed an alliance that will pursue this common goal over the next three years. Having claimed two race wins and finished second overall in the 2007 British GT Championship, he is greatly looking forward to making the step to American Le Mans Series.
Lord Drayson:" As we enter the 21st century, the car is at the heart of the debate around energy and climate change."
"The American Le Mans Series will be a serious challenge for both the team and me," Drayson said. "2008 will be a development year for us racing with a brand new GT2 car running bio-ethanol fuel. The two major concerns of our time are the environment and energy. But how can we be green without being boring? As we enter the 21st century, the car is at the heart of the debate around energy and climate change.
"We at Drayson-Barwell believe these circumstances present a timely opportunity for a new type of motor racing team," he added. "Endurance sports car racing - with its emphasis on stamina, reliability and speed - is the perfect platform to showcase new ideas in marketing and technology that aim to address the central dilemma of our time and to answer it. To make being 'Green' cool and exciting, not boring and dull, and to do this by being competitive and getting results.
"The American Le Mans Series is a world-class series and shares our vision for green racing," continued Drayson, "allowing bio-ethanol fuelled cars for the first time in 2008. I'm really looking forward to driving this beautiful new Racing Green Aston Martin Vantage GT2 on some of the most challenging and iconic circuits in the world."
Barwell Motorsport MD, Mark Lemmer, comments: "Paul and I share the same vision: To be successful at Le Mans and to be at the forefront of developing 'Green' technologies within motorsport. Over the last two seasons we have been laying the foundations for our new joint venture, and Drayson-Barwell's newly formed partnership with Aston Martin Racing allows us to move closer to our combined goal. With the commitment and passion we share for the task ahead, I'm sure we are in for an exciting and fruitful three years."
Drayson-Barwell has already established that Autosport magazine's British GT Championship 'No.1 Driver of the Year', 21-year-old Jonny Cocker, will be Drayson's full-time teammate in the American Le Mans Series. At present, D-B hopes to be able to contest a full Series program with the GT2 car, but may have to use Drayson's existing FIA GT3-specification Aston Martin DBRS9 for the first two events (at Sebring and St. Petersburg) whilst the new Vantage GT2 is still being built. The DBRS9 would be eligible to compete in the GT2S class of the Series.
Drayson concluded: "We are looking to establish further marketing and technology partnerships with organizations that share our vision and passion, and we would welcome conversations with any parties interested in learning more."
Preparations for the 2008 American Le Mans Series, its 10th season of world-class sports car racing, begin January 28-30 with the annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway.
The 2008 season opens with the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 15. The race will start at 10 a.m. ET and will be broadcast live by SPEED, which will begin its coverage at 9:30 a.m. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.