Drayson Racing has signed sportscar racing legend Emanuele Pirro to race its #8 Lola-Judd coupé at three major endurance races in 2010.
The Italian, a five-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, will join Drayson owner-driver Paul Drayson and regular co-driver Jonny Cocker in the programme's LMP1 entry at the Sebring 12 Hours and Petit Le Mans as well as returning to La Sarthe in search of a sixth outright success. He will assist the team as this week's scheduled test session.
"It's just brilliant news, and I am really excited about this," Drayson commented, "I met Emanuele during the 2008 ALMS championship and we got on really well from the start, particularly when swapping flying stories, so 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 spent three seasons in F1 before making the full-time move to sports and touring cars in 1992, joining the crack Audi squad two years later. With the German marque, he won five championships, including two American Le Mans Series titles, to go with his 24 Hours success, and will be returning to central France for the 13th time in June. He also has two Sebring victories in ten starts and three Petit Le Mans P1 class wins in a similar number of appearance, and has achieved an unprecedented nine consecutive Le Mans podiums, including a top step appearance as part of the first squad to take overall victory with a diesel-powered entry.
"The addition of Emanuele to Drayson Racing is not only another piece in the puzzle to move us to the front, it is a major piece," team manager Dale White noted, "He has such a remarkable record in sportscars that he immediately forces everyone to think of our programme when they think of contenders.
"He brings with him so much experience in these cars, and that is an element we have been missing. Not only will Emanuele's impact on the team be felt at the three endurance races he will drive, but also in races he is not even at the track. I honestly feel his input will be that impactful on Paul and Jonny as drivers and to our team as a whole."
As a long-time Audi works driver, Pirro was instrumental in the development - and competitive domination - of the innovative Audi R8 and Audi R10 TDI models, and his impact on Audi and Audi Motorsports continues today as a brand ambassador and driver in select events. Audi AG has given the Italian special permission to join Drayson Racing for three events and testing.
"When I received the offer from Drayson Racing, it didn't take long to realise that it was a great opportunity," Pirro admits, "I met Paul Drayson during the 2008 ALMS season and, first, I was attracted by his life story, [which was] 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 sure, at Drayson Racing, they know very well what to do. But, nevertheless, I am expecting to learn from them as much as they will learn from me. When people with different experiences meet up it is always a positive and constructive thing for both. It is true, fortunately, that I drove most of my career for works teams, but 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!"