Bishop’s Stortford racing driver Michael Lyons enjoyed a richly deserved winning conclusion to his 2015 motorsport season at Yas Marina Circuit on Friday, 11th December, after taking class victory along with Kessel Racing team-mates Marco Zanuttini and Vadim Gitlin in the Gulf 12 Hours.
Marking the Briton’s maiden outing in the annual endurance contest at the Abu Dhabi venue, as well as comfortably winning the GENT Class the No.99 Ferrari 458 Italia also ended the race in fifth place overall ahead of all but one of the Pro-Am entries.
“It’s fantastic to have come away from Abu Dhabi with the class win”, reflected Lyons, “The whole team did a great job and Marco and Vadim performed well. We wanted to focus on keeping a consistent pace, making sure everything was neat and tidy, in the first six hours and then everything went as intended in the second race. It’s obviously a brilliant way to end the year.”
Teaming for the first time with Zanuttini and Gitlin, the trio made strong progress during practice and on average lap times in qualifying secured a top three start in the GENT Class for the opening contest – uniquely, the Gulf 12 Hours is split into two separate six hour races.
Focusing on putting together a steady and controlled opening to the race, the Kessel entry moved into the class top three during the second hour and then climbed into second spot soon after. After taking the GENT lead in hour five, at the conclusion of the first six hours the No.99 car had been edged back to second in class and eighth overall.
After a break of a couple of hours, the second six hour race began under the Yas Marina floodlights with Lyons behind the wheel. Climbing into the overall top five and, most importantly, the class lead, the British ace also circulated ahead of all of the Pro-Am entries at that point.
In the second stint, Zanuttini was edged back to second place by Niki Cadei in the sister Kessel Racing Ferrari – a line-up which also featured former MotoGP motorcycle racer Loris Capirossi – but the No.99 car regained the lead later on. During the final hour Lyons protected the commanding advantage they had earned while also conserving fuel, winning the class by six laps.
“This event was the first time we’d all worked with the Avon tyre, we had good durability initially but hadn’t quite found the speed”, explained Lyons, “We progressed nicely, though, and Marco and Vadim improved a lot. Qualifying went well, as did the first race where we stayed on the lead lap which was really important for the start of race two.
“The start of the second race was good, I moved up into P5 overall and the class lead and had a good scrap with Pierre Kaffer. Although he was on a different lap, he was running strong pace and on a bit of a comeback charge. The final stint went faultlessly for me, I just had to manage the fuel as we had a commanding lead.”
He added: “As well as the result, it was good being in the same garage as Loris [Capirossi]. He’s a great guy, really down to earth and obviously a bit of a legend in bike racing. He showed really good progress over the weekend and pushed us hard for the win. Congratulations as well to Davide Rigon and the guys at Kessel for the overall win, they did a fantastic job.”
Source. Marc Orme