Late title push for Scuderia Vittoria as sensational enduro win sets up finale

26 09 2011

Lyons struggled with front end grip at Brands Hatch in a dramatic race

Lyons and Bateman are back in the title hunt after a stellar win at Donington

MICHAEL Lyons and Scuderia Vittoria teammate Charles Bateman stormed to a second race win of the season in a testing three-hour enduro at Donington Park to catapult them back into title contention.

The 20-year-old and Bateman took the GT500 by the scruff of the neck in the second half of the race and pulled out a lead over their closest rivals.

The fantastic result leaves Lyons with a shot at British GT glory in his debut season and the championship finale at Silverstone on October 9 is one not to be missed.

Lyons added: “The amazing thing is that this now leaves us firmly back in the championship chase with one round to go. After winning at Oulton Park earlier in the year which seems like such a long time ago, we now have a reasonable chance.

I will do my best to win at Silverstone the last race and just see what happens.”

Bateman started first on a damp and slippery surface and took the car from eighth to fourth before bringing it into the pits for Lyons to take over.

By this time, the circuit was bone dry and slicks were the only option. Lyons immediately set about setting fastest laps before the safety car was out again, this time for a beached Aston Martin.

As soon as the safety car came out Lyons pitted from an astonishing second place – in effect buying the team a free pit stop – a strategy that would pay big dividends at the chequered flag.

Bateman put the laps in and maintained the place and as the safety car came out for the third time, the team pitted on lap 62 to hand back over to Lyons for the last stint.

When Lyons rejoined the race he was in fifth place and a lap down, but the strategy was working well with a whole pit stop in hand to claw back the deficit to those in front.

By lap 85 Lyons was leading having passed cars on track and in the pits and the gap was 37 seconds. The biggest question at this point was whether a splash and dash for fuel would be needed.

Fortunately with some measured driving and fuel management they saw of the MTECH Ferrari 458 and ever present Trackspeed Porsche.

In the closing minutes though the #20 Ferrari spun off the circuit causing a safety car to come out one more time. This meant the lead was reduced to zero and when the safety car came back in, Lyons had to fight extremely hard to hold on to the flag.

Lyons said: “It was a mega race, those last twenty minutes just took forever, I never thought the race would finish. All the safety cars through the race both helped us and hindered us in equal amounts, so I suppose it just evened out really.

“The times in my last stint were great and against some really strong competition, so I’m really pleased with how it has all gone, this really is the race to win in British GT, and to beat the factory drivers too was very satisfying.

“The team have also done a great job all weekend, and the strategy and the way they spotted the opportunity to build a free pit stop was incredible, so I have to say thank you to the guys too.”

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‘Promising’ debut season for youngster Lyons as he continues to dream of glory

25 08 2011

Scuderia Vittoria showed the 458 was quick with a win in Race Two © Jakob Ebrey

Michael Lyons showed the 458 was quick with a win in Race Two at Oulton © Jakob Ebrey

MICHAEL Lyons is optimistic about the remainder of the season and is looking to continue his ‘promising’ start in British GT racing.

His debut race weekend saw him pick up a win at Oulton Park and the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458, at the hands of Lyons and teammate Charles Bateman, has shown impressive pace throughout the season so far.

But Lyons, 21, believes there is more to come from the car especially now that some of the handling issues have hopefully been rectified in the summer break.

He said: “Promising, would be the way to put it in one word. I’ve had good speed and have already won races in only my first year in GTs as well as securing a couple of poles.

“But we haven’t gained the consistent big points hauls we should have in order to be where we should be in the points table right now.

“Fundamentally I’ve found it to be a very good car, it’s relatively easy to drive and with the raft of updates we’ve received it’s seems to be getting faster but it’s been an adjustment for me having never driven a race car with power steering and ABS.

“We have struggled with a handling in-balance which has slowed our progress in races recently but with some work over the summer I’m sure we can cure it.”

“I think it’s important for us to fight race by race, we were second in the championship a few races back but it seems like a long time ago and it just shows you how quickly things change.

“Therefore for us I think it’s important to just focus on getting the best results we can and see where that leaves us at the end of the year.”

Last time out at Spa, Lyons endured a troubled weekend with bad luck after bad luck preventing him adding to his win tally but despite his tender age he is mature enough to accept it is all part of the sport.

The Essex racer added: “This is hard one. I suppose you have to say it’s racing. Everyone has good and bad days. You have to be able look at everything, see the root cause of the problem and draw any positives that can be from the situation.

“Then try and make plans for how to ensure the same thing can’t ever happen again. At Spa for example I knew I had the pace as I put the car on championship class pole, then when the rear toe link broke while battling for the lead I had to accept that things like that just happen sometimes.

“As for Race Two there was nothing I could do, the car had problems before it was handed over to me so I knew all I was doing was a damage limitation exercise/

“I managed to get the car home in the points which was believe me an achievement in itself.”

And Lyons revealed he did not have any firm plans for 2012 in British GT and that he is focusing on the rest of 2011 and his other commitments to F5000 and historic F1 racing.

He did allow himself to dream of the future though, he concluded: “My aim is to become a factory driver and win the Le Mans 24 Hours.”

The next British GT race is at Rockingham on the weekend of September 3/4.





Bad luck costs Scuderia Vittoria and Lyons podium in British GT enduro at Spa

13 07 2011

Michael Lyons suffered a string of misfortunes at Spa in his Ferrari 458 © Jakob Ebrey

Michael Lyons suffered a string of misfortunes at Spa in his Ferrari 458 © Jakob Ebrey

MICHAEL Lyons is focusing on the future after a torrid luck at the weekend in Spa cost the team a possible podium and championship points.

The Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458 had looked quick in practice and qualifying and Lyons and co-driver Charles Bateman were looking to repeat their Oulton Park success.

The Essex racer had qualified on GT3 pole for Race One but a rear tow link broke on lap sending him into the gravel at 140 mph and in Race Two he had to nurse the car to ninth place after a set-up mistake degraded the tyres down to the steel rims.

But at the tender age of 20 years old Lyons showed maturity and understood that weekends like these happen now and again and you have to learn to move on.

He said: “Today was just one of those days, and as hard as it is to accept, that is just how motor sport is sometimes.

“Even though the results weren’t there, there are still some positives to take from this weekend; such as getting back to the front in qualifying and racing hard.

“After qualifying it looked like we were back on track and looking good for a potential win in Race One, and a solid result in Race Two.”

“We now have to look at the rest of the year, and hope for some luck, and try and win as many of the remaining races as possible.”

And Scuderia Vittoria Team Principal Piers Maserati was equally disappointed but praised his driver for bringing the car home.

He added: “Today was disappointing, Race One was looking good until we had a parts failure which put us out of the lead and eventually out of the race.

In Race Two we clearly had a serious issue with the dampers and Michael did an excellent job to bring the car home in one piece in the points”.





Debut win for Lyons and Bateman in new Ferrari 458 as safety car causes pit drama

25 04 2011

Lyons and Bateman celebrate a debut victory for Scuderia Vittoria's Ferrari 458

Lyons and Bateman celebrate a debut victory for Scuderia Vittoria's Ferrari 458

BRITISH GT debutant Michael Lyons and Charles Bateman took the checkered flag in their Ferrari 458 for maximum points in an eventful Race Two at Oulton Park.

Lyons and Bateman had started at the back of the grid but early safety cars and pitlane drama left the field turned on its head and the Scuderia Vittoria team ended the race 20 seconds clear of the Jones brothers, with Michael Gausch’s Audi completing the podium.

A first corner crash for the KTM of Marcus Clutton forced the safety car out but it did not effect the leaders, Richard Westbrook led the field from the restart and set a new lap record, a 1.38.491. Westbrook in the Race One-winning Trackspeed Porsche opened up a big lead before the second safety car in 20 minutes caused mayhem.

With 23 minutes on the clock the pit lane opened and all the cars bar four dived into the pit lane to make their driver changes and try to gain positions with a quick switch.

The biggest winner was the Trackspeed Porsche of Gregor Fisken and Tim Bridgman who had started from the pitlane after a broken steering rack in Race One had left the team with a rebuild moments before the start.

Bridgman had benefited from the first safety car by catching the back of the pack but the second worked even better as he pitted on the lap the safety car was deployed and allowed Fisken to rejoin in third position.

The lightning quick United Autosports Audi was one of the cars not to stop and lost out, the fact Michael Gausch made it back up to third shows how with a bit more tactical nous, they could have won the race.

The race was full of drama even after the safety car had returned to the pits. Hector Lester spun from second place and David Ashburn got a stop/go penalty for not waiting long enough during the pitstop which dropped him back to fifth.

The MTECH Racing Ferrari 458 of Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron which had been so quick in the second half of Race One was going well before a mechanical problem forced them out promoting more cars into points paying positions.

And with the clock ticking down there was just time for Fisken to run wide and allow Ashburn and Guasch past.

Westbrook led the field from the restart after the first safety car

Westbrook led the field from the restart after the first safety car

All the incident happened behind the race winner though, Lyons who drove superbly in his first race was understandably delighted with the result.

Lyons told BritishGT after the podium celebrations: “I’ve seen three cars in a GT career so I can’t complain! The pit stop worked out perfect, from my point of view it couldn’t have gone better.

“I thought podium was on the cards before the race but that safety car really helped us out. The car is coming along really well. We’ve done no running in the car and it’s already there, I can’t wait for Snetterton.”

In GT4, Freddy Nordstrom and Leyton Clarke believed they had won in their Lotus Evora but a yellow flag infringement demoted them to second behind Jake Rattenbury and Josh Wakefield in a Century Motorsport Ginetta G50.

The Anthony Reid/Jordan Witt Chevron GR8 had another solid finish in 12th having run in the top ten for most of the incident filled race.

Race Two Results

GT3

1  Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari  Michael Lyons/Charles Bateman  1h 0m 18.610s / 85.70mph

2  Preci-Spark Mercedes  David Jones/Godfrey Jones  +21.633s

3  United Autosports Audi  Mike Guasch (USA)/Matt Bell  +30.411s

4  Trackspeed Porsche  David Ashburn/Richard Westbrook  +36.125s

5  CRS Racing Ferrari  Jim Geddie/Glynn Geddie  +50.527s

6  CRS Racing Ferrari  Andrew Tate/Alex Mortimer  +1m 06.906s

7  Rosso Verde Ferrari  Hector Lester/Allan Simonsen (DEN)  +1m 12.725s

8  Predator CCTV Ferrari  Phil Burton/Adam Wilcox  +1m 19.535s

9  Century Motorsport Ginetta  Freddie Hetherington/Julien Draper  +1m 23.238s

10  Trackspeed Porsche  Gregor Fisken/Tim Bridgman  +1m 45.222s

Fastest lap: Westbrook 1m 38.491s / 98.39mph

GT Cup

1  Chevron Racing Chevron  Jordan Witt/Anthony Reid  31 laps

GT3B

1  MTECH Ferrari  John Dhillon/Aaaron Scott  30 laps

GT4

1  Century Motorsport Ginetta  Josh Wakefield/Jake Rattenbury  31 laps

2  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  Leyton Clarke/Freddy Nordstrom  31 laps

3  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  Ollie Jackson/Jack Drinkall  31 laps

4  ABG Motorsport KTM  Athanasios Ladas (GRE)/Michael Mallock  30 laps