UK defence minister quits for motor racing career

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LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) A British defence minister resigned today to pursue his dream of becoming a racing driver in the Le Mans series, the government said.

Paul Drayson, minister for defence equipment and support, stepped down from his unpaid post to take part in the American Le Mans Series after coming second in the British GT championship.

Drayson will be replaced at the Ministry of Defence by Ann Taylor, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman said.

''I have the opportunity to race next year in the American Le Mans series in the United States, a key step towards my eventual dream of success in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race,'' Drayson said in a letter to Brown.

''Unfortunately, it cannot be combined with the challenge of full time government office.'' Brown praised Drayson for ''the delivery of vital equipment to the front line faster than every before, thereby helping to save lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.'' The British government has come in for heavy criticism from the families of troops serving in both those countries, who have accused Brown's administration of leaving them under-equipped.

REUTERS MP AS0028

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