Michael Lyons made an impressive impact during the opening round of the season at Silverstone.
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, 19th April, after challenging for GTE Class podium glory along with AF Corse team-mates Marco Cioci and Piergiuseppe Perazzini.
Delivering an outstanding first stint in the four-hour endurance race, 23-year-old Michael 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 Michael in good stead for the remainder of the 2014 season.
“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”, explained the Essex racer, "It was a very positive weekend overall, the end result was just out of our hands.”
Making positive steps forward in practice on Friday, 18th April, the No.54 Ferrari 458 Italia emerged from qualifying with the sixth fastest time in GTE and with Michael 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, the British racer 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, Michael 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 Michael 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 a lengthy Safety Car period ruined any hope of major progress and the team had to settle for sixth in class.
“Unfortunately we were compromised in the pit-stop after my second stint, the No.55 car pitted early and that delayed us”, said Michael, “Our race was done, though, when the Safety Car came out. We were on for a top three finish in GTE but the Safety Car enabled other cars to get a lap back on us. It’s a shame we couldn’t finish on the podium but it’s been a great learning experience.”
Round two of the 2014 European Le Mans Series season will take place four weeks from now, over the weekend 17th/18th May, at Imola in Italy.