An hour long stint from Essex-based driver Michael Lyons pushed Scuderia Vittoria to a second Avon Tyres British GT Championship.
The team reacted to a safety car early in the second hour of the three hour race, ending Lyons' first stint in the Ferrari 458 early. However, the decision put them one stop ahead of many of their rivals but still meant that the 20-year-old would have complete more than an hour of driving in the gathering darkness at the end of the race.
The strategy gave them the race lead but Lyons had to compete not only against the other drivers but against tyre wear and fuel consumption, short-shifting through the gearbox on occasions to fight the latter.
A third safety car of the race set up a 10 minute sprint to the end, but while the interlude helped with both tyre and fuel concerns it moved the chasing pack to with striking distance for the final laps. Fortunately there was a penalty hanging over the second placed car for earlier infraction. Despite this the team, Lyons told The Checkered Flag, decided not to pass the news onto him, leaving him to race the final laps under the impressions that “they were coming for me”.
“That was a mega race, those last twenty minutes just took forever, I never thought the race would finish,” Lyons said. “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.”
“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!”
The race had started in tricky conditions with Lyons' co-driver Charles Bateman in the driving seat, taking advantage of a handful of early accidents Bateman moved up through the order from eighth to fourth.
Bateman, a former Porsche Carrera Cup GB driver, took back over during the first safety car period brought out by a stranded Aston Martin and again – now on a dry track – kept the team in contention while the differing strategies unwound themselves in his and Lyons' favour.
The final round the championship is at Silverstone in October, where a win could be enough to give the duo the title.