Drayson Racing has signed sports car racing legend Emanuele Pirro (Rome) to race the team’s No. 8 Drayson Racing Lola Coupé with Judd Power at the three major, Automobile Club De l’Ouest (ACO)-sanctioned, endurance races of 2010.
The five-time, overall winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will join Drayson Racing regulars Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) in the programme’s Le Mans Prototype One (LMP1) entry. Pirro will drive for the UK-based team at the 12 Hours of Sebring (Fla.) on 20 March, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (12-13 June) and the American Le Mans Series’ season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (2 October). He will assist in testing the car for the first time this week.
The name Pirro is found across the record books not only of the three world class endurance events but in sports car sprint races, touring cars and formula car races. The native of Rome reached the pinnacle of the sport driving three seasons of Formula 1. He made the fulltime move to sports and touring cars in 1992 and joined Audi two years later. Since, he has won five championships – including two American Le Mans Series LMP1 titles – with the German brand. Pirro has started sixteen 24 hour races including twelve 24 Heures du Mans driving to five overall wins. He has two overall 12 Hours of Sebring victories in 10 starts and three Petit Le Mans P1 titles in 10 races. In total, the tall and popular Italian has earned eight championships from karting to the American Le Mans Series. He has an unprecedented nine consecutive Le Mans podiums and was part of the first driver squad to race to an overall victory at Le Mans with a diesel-powered entry (2006).
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. His impact on Audi and Audi Motorsports continues today as a brand ambassador and driver in select events. Audi AG gave the former Formula 1 driver special permission to join Drayson Racing for three events and testing this season.
2010 marks the first full year in which the Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA)-managed team will race in the prototype class. The effort made the transition from LM GT2 cars to the purpose-built prototypes in late 2009 debuting in the LMP1 class at Petit Le Mans. They continued onto Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca before closing the year at the Okayama Circuit in Japan. In the inaugural Asian Le Mans Series championship, Drayson Racing earned one pole position and set two fastest race laps winning the Michelin ® Green X Challenge ®.
Lady Drayson, Owner: “Emanuele is one of the world’s most successful Le Mans prototype racers and we are very grateful to Audi for allowing him to race with us this year. It’s a major coup for the team. His unique combination of talent, speed, experience and charm will be a huge asset.”
Paul Drayson, Owner/Driver: “It’s just brilliant news! I am really excited about this. 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.”
Emanuele Pirro, Driver: “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.”
About what he feels he brings to Drayson Racing: “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.”
About racing for a privateer entrant: “It is true, fortunately, I drove most of my career for works teams. 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!”
Dale White, Team Manager: “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. He has such a remarkable record in sports cars 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.”