Apparently at odds with the Barwell team that ran him last season, Paul Drayson has announced the formation of Drayson Racing to contest a select number of sportscar events on three continents in 2009.
The single car team will enter races in the Le Mans Series in Europe, the American Le Mans Series and two late season races in Asia. The new stand-alone outfit - which will benefit from being an official 'partner team' of the works Aston Martin Racing operation for the 2009 season - will campaign the familiar #007 Aston Martin Vantage GT2, with Drayson and 2008 co-driver Jonny Cocker behind the wheel.
Perhaps the biggest development in the team's programme, however, is the addition of multi-Le Mans 24 Hours and ALMS title winning team manager Dale White to oversee the running of the squad.
"Dale brought a wealth of experience and professionalism to my 2008 ALMS programme, and I am delighted that we are going to be working together again in 2009," Drayson noted, "I am also very happy to be continuing in partnership with Aston Martin Racing. The GT2 Vantage is a beautiful car and its recent pace points to its potential to win in 2009."
White managed winning entries in the GT class at Le Mans in both 2003 and 2004, and has also tasted success at Sebring, Petit Le Mans and Daytona 24 Hours, as well as taking ALMS titles in both 2005 and 2006. Having performed strategist and consulting duties with Drayson in 2008, White will now manage the operation's efforts in both Europe and North America. Briton Ted Higgins - who worked with Drayson, Cocker and White last season - will take the role as crew chief for the #007 car, overseeing an mix of British and American spannering talent.
"I am very excited about the prospects of working with Drayson Racing," admitted White, whose White Lightning Racing headquarters will serve as Drayson's US base, "I formed a very good relationship with Paul, Jonny and Ted last season and I couldn't have been any happier than when Paul contacted me about managing Drayson Racing in 2009.
"The schedule we have outlined for the team will be very challenging, but will put the #007 Aston Martin Vantage GT2 at some of the greatest tracks in the world. We believe we have assembled the ingredients to create a winning programme. Paul and I share the same passion for motorsports and the environment and that makes this relationship so rewarding. It is my goal to help Paul accomplish his dream of not only competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans but to win it."
The theme of continuation extends in the cockpit too, as the Drayson-Cocker combination embarks on its third year together. The pairing earned second place in the British GT Championship in 2007, and made its GT2 class debut in the ALMS last year, finishing a season-best seventh in the series' finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in October.
"I'm really thrilled to be driving again with Paul," Cocker commented, "Returning to the American Le Mans Series with Dale's experience will prove to be invaluable, and I'm excited to be taking all that we have learnt over the past few years into a full season of Le Mans Series and earning our place to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans."
The proposed calendar for Drayson Racing includes the ALMS opener at Sebring in March, as well as the series' final two events at Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca, while contesting the entire Le Mans Series and adding non-championship events at Fuji and Shanghai in November to close out the campaign.