British sportscar racer Michael Lyons was left seething after the third event of the International GT Open season at the Nurburgring in Germany over the weekend, 1st/2nd June, as two potential podium results were ripped from his grasp.
Along with Italian team-mate Matteo Beretta, the Felsted 22-year-old was in tremendous form and both of the AF Corse drivers had the pace to fight at the front in rounds five and six. Unfortunately though, contact in each encounter resulted in their first non-scoring weekend of the season.
“Had we been able to have no incidents we would definitely have been in contention for the podium and quite possibly a GTS class win”, said Michael, “It’s very frustrating to lose out on good results when you know you’ve got a quick car, it’s working well and you’re driving well.”
Saturday’s action was badly delayed due to fog enveloping the Nurburgring but when qualifying finally got underway, Michael had to be satisfied with the eighth fastest time in the GTS class – 13th on the grid overall.
Taking the opening stint of the 70-minute fifth round, the British driver made excellent early progress to rapidly climb the class standings and the overall classification. Moving into seventh overall as early as lap three, soon after – unbelievably – his Ferrari was unceremoniously hit from behind even though racing had been brought under caution with yellow flags displayed.
Pitting on lap 10 for the mandatory driver change, Beretta rejoined in 16th position overall and managed to climb into 13th and ninth in the GTS class by the finish, despite fighting an ill-handling car which was sporting damaged rear suspension and a broken floor from the earlier impact.
Beginning round six on Sunday from 10th overall, sixth in GTS, Beretta took the opening stint but the duo’s involvement only lasted until lap eight when a rival car slammed into the back of the AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia. Causing huge damage, wrecking the rear floor, exhaust system and gearbox, there was no option but to retire the car from the race before Michael’s stint.
“We were definitely in contention for the podium in race one but when you’re hit from behind, especially under yellow flag conditions, you’re screwed”, said the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star, “It was a big hit, it bent the rear suspension and broke the rear floor which is why we lost so much pace.
“In the second race, it was a stupid situation. Matteo [Beretta] was in a battle with five or six other cars. He was defending the inside line, as he should, and was clearly ahead of the car which was challenging but then got T-boned. It destroyed the rear floor, broke the entire exhaust system and the gearbox – I’ve never seen that before, it showed the severity of the impact.”
Putting on-track action firmly in perspective, on a very solemn note Michael and his family wish to take the opportunity to express their sincere condolences to all those who knew Pietro Stragliati who tragically lost his life in an accident in the race paddock at the Nurburgring. The Italian, who had strong links with the AF Corse team, was working for the support crew of the Trofeo Maserati series.
Jerez in Spain will be the next stop on the International GT Open calendar with rounds seven and eight of the 2013 season taking place over the weekend 15th/16th June.
Provisional 2013 International GT Open – GTS Class Standings (after Rd6):
7th Michael Lyons/Matteo Beretta, 14pts
Provisional 2013 International GT Open Standings (after Rd6):
=12th Michael Lyons/Matteo Beretta & Diederik Sijthoff, 25pts