by RAY FLEMING
I'VE heard some pretty unusual reasons given for resigning from a government job but Lord Drayson's explanation for quitting his ministerial role at the Ministry of Defence must be a first. He is leaving, he says, to try to achieve his lifetime ambition of winning the Le Mans 24-hour race. It certainly makes a refreshing change from “wanting to spend more time with my family”. Lord Drayson is 47, rich, and admits to being a “car nut”; he says he has been given a “once in a lifetime opportunity to take my racing to the next level” by qualifying for the American Le Mans series of races. Over the past year he competed in the British GT championship, coming second in the unique bio-ethanol-fuelled car he drives.

Gordon Brown has given Lord Drayson leave of absence and wished him well. The Conservative shadow defence minister Liam Fox said, “The only minister with any credibility in the defence industry has now abandoned ship”, a reaction that typifies the inability of today's Conservatives to resist any opportunity to belittle the government, no matter how irrelevant and small-minded. The reaction of most people will be that if a man of 47 can still dream the dream of winning at Le Mans 24 in a new green-technology powered car he will be better occupied in chasing it than in shuffling papers in Whitehall.

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