Hugely competitive ELMS debut for Felsted race ace at Silverstone
PUBLISHED: 13:27 23 April 2014
European Le Mans Series debutant Michael Lyons made an impressive impact during the opening round of the season at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on Saturday, after challenging for GTE Class podium glory along with AF Corse team-mates Marco Cioci and Piergiuseppe Perazzini.
The Felsted ace challenge for GTE Class podium glory with AF Corse team-mates Marco Cioci and Piergiuseppe Perazzini.
Delivering an outstanding first stint in the four-hour endurance race, 23-year-old Lyons hoisted his Ferrari 458 Italia into the lead of the GTE Class and to the cusp of the overall top 10. But the trio had to ultimately settle for sixth in class when a lengthy safety car period didn’t play to their favour.
Even so, the pace and competitiveness displayed on his first weekend in the prestigious European Le Mans Series – coupled with the experience gained in a longer duration endurance contest – certainly stands Lyons in good stead for the remainder of the 2014 season.
The Essex racer said: “I had a good first stint and was very happy with it. I predicted after practice we would be in good shape to make strong progress in the opening hour and that’s how it turned out.
“It was a very positive weekend overall, the end result was just out of our hands.”
Making positive steps forward in practice on Friday, the No.54 Ferrari 458 Italia emerged from qualifying with the sixth fastest time in GTE and with Lyons taking the first 60-minute stint, he was determined to make significant headway on his ELMS bow.
Scything his way through the order during the first few laps, he made an immediate impression and by the fourth tour he had worked his way into the lead of GTE and also the overall top 12. Consolidating his lead, despite the performance of his Michelin tyres dropping away towards the end of his stint, Lyons then pitted for the first of the driver changes at the one-hour mark.
Perazzini took the second stint and moved back into the class lead after a couple of laps before slipping down to sixth in GTE and then handing the Ferrari back to Lyons at the end of the second hour. Rejoining the race ninth in class, he battled his way back into the top five before making the last of the team’s mandatory pit-stops with roughly 60 minutes left on the clock.
Before Cioci had chance to venture out on track for his stint, however, the hand-over was delayed due to the sister AF Corse car pitting earlier than scheduled. When back on track, the Italian driver ran in eighth place in GTE but had to settle for sixth in class.
Round two of the 2014 European Le Mans Series season will take place on May 17-18, at Imola in Italy.