2012 Silverstone Classic: Lyons’ Problem Gives Bill Coombs Historic F1 Win


Bill Coombs took victory under a red flag that ended the race (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Bill Coombs stole the victory in the Daily Express International Trophy for Grand Prix Masters race of the 2012 Silverstone Classic weekend, taking the win when long time leader Michael Lyons stopped on the Wellington Straight.

Lyons, driving a 1975 Hesketh 308E converted pole position from the previous day's qualifying session into a commanding lead over Coombs' Tyrrell 009 a car four years younger and so running in the Head class for the most recent machinery permitted in the Masters series.

His Penthouse liveried Hesketh running in the Lauda class Lyons – who dovetails a successful GT racing career in Europe with historic racing efforts – pulled out a lead of nearly ten second after just five laps at the start of the 20 minute race around the full Silverstone Grand Prix track.

Lyons eventually extended his advantage to over 15 seconds. But the race was to end in an unsatisfactory manor for the young Essex-based driver.

Healthily in the lead starting what may have been the final lead Lyons came upon the stricken Arrows A3-3 of Philip Hall and Mark Dwyer's March entangled on the exit of the Loop.

Michael Lyons dominated the race, but a problem terminated his drive early (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)
Michael Lyons dominated the race, but a problem terminated his drive early (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Hall had spun the Warsteiner coloured Arrows, leaving Dwyer with no escape as he rounded the left hander still fighting with Jeremy Smith in the March 2-4-0. Contact left both Arrows and March in need of recovery from the middle of the track and as he travelled through the yellow flag zone Lyons slowed, then stopped just around Aintree corner, Coombs moving past to take a race win as the red flags came out due to the position of Lyons' machine. The costly fault with Hesketh, a broken switch causing the car to cut out.

Steve Hartley, driving one of two 1982 Arrows A4 in the race, finished second after taking the position – which was then third – from Belgian Jean-Michel Martin on lap three.

Third across the line was Roger Wills in the six-wheeled Tyrrell P34, after a pass down the inside of Stowe. However, countback due to the red flag finish handed the position back to Williams FW08 driver Michael Fitzgerald.

In a rare occasion of having two different six-wheeled designs racing against each other Wills (his Tyrrell with four small font wheels) won the Lauda class ahead of Jeremy Smith in the March 2-4-0 (four rear, powered wheels) who finished ninth, despite completing the opening lap ahead of Wills in an impressive sixth place.

Roger Wills recovered from a qualifying off in a repaired Tyrrell P34 (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)
Roger Wills recovered from a qualifying off in a repaired Tyrrell P34 (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Richard Meins and Simon Fish were fifth and sixth with Andrew Smith seventh in the oldest car on the entry list, a 1970 vintage March 701, as run by Jackie Stewart for the Tyrrell before the team embarked upon a future as a manufacturer.