December 9 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
INTERNATIONAL GT Open racer Michael Lyons produced two consistently strong performances during rounds 11 and 12 of the season at Spa-Francorchamps over the weekend, to end the sixth event of the campaign a mere five points shy of the lead in the GTS Class title battle.
At the wheel of his AF Corse-prepared Ferrari 458 Italia, which the Felsted driver shares with Italian racer Matteo Beretta, Lyons delivered outstanding pace in both encounters.
But the highlight was undoubtedly his remarkable drive during the opening stint in Saturday’s 70-minute race.
Making a sensational getaway from the rolling start the 22-year-old rocketed up the order from 12th on the grid, eighth in GTS, and by the time he exited the chicane at Les Combes he was into fifth position overall and an outstanding second in class.
Continuing his superb progress, he then produced an excellent cut-back on the Super GT class Ferrari of Alexander Talkanitsa Jnr at Les Combes on lap three to move into fourth overall where he remained until the pit-window opened for the mandatory driver-change stops.
With roughly 35 minutes remaining in the race, he pitted the No.55 AF Corse machine from third overall, second in GTS, and when team-mate Beretta rejoined the race he was fourth in class and sixth in the outright classification.
No sooner had Beretta set off on his stint, though, than the action was brought under caution due to a hefty accident for the McLaren of Chris van der Drift. Adding to the unfolding drama, rain began to fall while the field circulated behind the Safety Car and with no let-up in the conditions drivers began to pit for wet-weather tyres.
Beretta had ventured out onto the track on slick tyres but it soon became apparent wet-weather Dunlops would be needed so he returned to the pits. He eventually finished the race fourth in GTS, seventh on the combined classification.
“I had a monster start, the best rolling start I’ve ever had I think”, said Lyons.
“At the first corner I was sixth and it was like the floodgates opened – there was so much space and I was able to pick the line I wanted and just drive past people. I was really happy with my pace and the car felt great, we definitely had the pace to win had things turned out a little bit differently.”
For round 12 on Sunday a wet but drying track greeted the competitors and Beretta – taking the opening stint – opted to pit at the end of the formation lap to change from wet-weather tyres to slicks, due to an ever-improving dry line.
Despite losing around 40 seconds in the pits, Beretta climbed through into seventh in GTS and 11th position overall during the first half of the 50-minute race before handing the Ferrari over to Michael for his stint. Joining the track in 12th overall, eighth in class, the Essex driver charged through into fifth place in GTS and seventh overall by the finish on lap 20 to cap a consistently strong weekend.
“In race two every lap I had in the car I was able to improve the pace, except when passing traffic, so all in all I’m happy with my performance”, said Michael, “That said, we definitely had the pace to win this weekend so I am disappointed not to have at least taken a podium. It all started in qualifying, we were on for a top three time but one of the Corvettes crashed so we ended up 12th overall.
“We’re in a really good position heading to Monza, though, and points mean prizes. We’re closer to the lead in GTS, only five points away now, and we’re showing the right signs at the right part of the season. We can definitely win this thing, I’m confident of that.”
Monza in Italy will host the penultimate event of the International GT Open season, rounds 13 and 14, four weeks from now over the weekend October 5-6. Before then, Lyons will return to Spa on September 21-22 with the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship.