Michael Lyons will make his maiden appearance in the annual Gulf 12 Hours endurance contest at the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi next month after today, Friday, 27th November, confirming his participation with top team Kessel Racing at the wheel of a Ferrari 458 Italia.
Partnering ‘Bronze’ graded drivers Marco Zanuttini and Vadim Gitlin, the 24-year-old British ace has been invited back to join the Kessel squad which he helped steer to the Vice-Champion position in this year’s Blancpain Endurance Series Pro-Am Class.
For the upcoming Gulf 12 Hours, Lyons – who is a ‘Silver’ graded competitor – will share driving duties with Zanuttini and Gitlin in the ‘Am’ class and the British Racing Drivers’ Club pilot is confident of mounting a major bid for category honours, while also pushing hard for an outright podium.
“It should be an interesting challenge and a great experience, I’m really looking forward to it”, said the Bishop’s Stortford driver, “It’s good to be with the Kessel guys again and I’m confident our engineer Diego will give us a fantastic set-up for our Ferrari.
“I’ve never been to Abu Dhabi before, so this is a great opportunity to race at another top F1 circuit and especially under the lights in the night portion of the race. The track layout looks good, there’s a nice mix of stuff with some technical sections and then big wide straights and I imagine it’ll be pretty hard on the brakes. I think we’ll have a very strong chance of a good result.”
Although billed as a 12 hour race, the action will actually be broken down into a pair of six hour contests with the first taking place in the daytime and the concluding part running under the Yas Marina floodlights into the night, with a two hour break between.
Kessel is set to enter three Ferraris in the race, which will form part of an expected 22 car grid also featuring the likes of Aston Martin, Mercedes, Nissan and Porsche. During the corresponding event last year, the team celebrated a class victory with a line-up which included three-time MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Lyons, therefore, is hopeful of taking more silverware for the Swiss team and particularly after such a strong season together in the Blancpain Endurance Series this year where they celebrated Pro-Am victory at Paul Ricard and ended the campaign as Vice-Champions.
“Racing at Yas Marina will be a nice way to end the year after a fantastic season with Kessel in Blancpain, we had some really strong results and the team put out a great car all year”, added the Briton, “It’s going to be great heading out to Abu Dhabi just a couple of weeks after the F1 has been there, hopefully there will be a good buzz about the place and plenty of fans watching on.”
Free practice for the Gulf 12 Hours begins on Wednesday, 9th December, with qualifying following on Thursday, 10th December. The opening six hours of the big race will get underway at 09.30 (local time) on Friday, 11th December, with the second six hour instalment following at 17.45 (local time).
Source. Marc Orme