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Category: International GT Open

Michael Lyons - Ferrari 458 ItaliaFerrari 458 Italia racer Michael Lyons got his International GT Open title campaign off to a strong start at Paul Ricard HTTT in France over the weekend, 27th/28th April, with a GTS class podium finish during the opening race of the 2013 season.

Marking the Felsted-based Briton’s first ever appearance at the Le Castellet track, the learning process during the event was made all the more challenging by continual rain and heavy fog which did cause some disruption to the weekend timetable.

Despite contact at the start of race two, which led to major problems with the handling of the AF Corse-run Ferrari shared with Italy’s Matteo Beretta, the duo still ended the weekend equal fourth in the GTS points standings and eighth in the outright championship.

“Considering I haven’t been to Paul Ricard before, and I had to learn how to drive the track in the rain in the races, I’m quite pleased how it all turned out in terms of our performance”, commented the 22-year-old, “Even with the race two troubles we’ve ended the weekend fourth in the GTS points so I’m happy with that, it’s important to score early on – the GT open is all about consistency.”

Fog and rain were prevalent throughout Saturday, making conditions extremely difficult for the round one qualifying session. Beretta had to settle for the 10th fastest time but in the race he and Michael showed their true performance with a fantastic run to fourth overall, third in the GTS class, to start the championship on the podium.

Beretta took the opening stint for the rain-affected 70-minute encounter and made good progress from the outset, climbing into the top six overall by lap eight. Pitting on lap 14 to hand the 458 Italia over to Michael, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star rejoined around the top 10 and in less than 10 laps he was into the top five – third in GTS.

Although remaining there to the finish on lap 28, post-race the Super GT Chevrolet Corvette of Bert Longin and Diederich Siithoff received a 30 second time penalty which elevated the Lyons-Beretta car into fourth overall.

For Sunday’s second round, which started in damp conditions, Michael began the race from seventh on the grid but was almost immediately collected by one of the rival Ferraris. Holding onto his car impressively, the incident dropped him to 10th overall but the damage caused resulted in horrendous understeer which badly compromised the pace.

After the mandatory driver change on lap 10, Beretta took control of the AF Corse machine but with the continued handling problems they had to settle for an eventual finish of 16th overall and 11th in the GTS class rankings.

“In qualifying I had the speed for P4 for race two but a combination of traffic and a small mistake meant we ended up seventh”, explained Michael, “At the start I got harpooned by, I think, one of the Kessel Racing Ferraris and the damage meant we had big understeer all the way through.

“We struggled the whole race with that and it’s just disappointing we missed out on a good finish as we had the pace to fight for another podium. It’s still been a good weekend though and we’ve taken some good points away from the first race so I’m happy enough with that.”

Next on the International GT Open calendar is a visit to Portimao in Portugal a fortnight from now, 11th/12th May, for rounds three and four of the 2013 season.

Provisional 2013 International GT Open – GTS Class Standings (after Rd2):
=4th Michael Lyons/Matteo Beretta & Nicola De Marco/Lorenzo Bontempelli, 6pts

Provisional 2013 International GT Open Standings (after Rd2):
8th Michael Lyons/Matteo Beretta, 12pts

Archie Hamilton (22, Basingstoke) made his 2013 race debut in the Drivex Porsche GT2 RSR alongside Niccolò Schirò at Paul Ricard in the south of France. The pairing put in a solid performance to take points to start their championship campaign after a weekend of mixed weather hindered their fortune. Both drivers put in fast times but lost out on podium finishes when the intermittent weather and wrong tyre choice came into play.

Both qualifying sessions were held with the slower GTS car slots having dry weather but rain falling as the Super GT cars went on track. The result was a mixed grid with the faster cars needing to work through the traffic to get to the front.

Race one, held yesterday, was wet throughout with cars struggling to stay on track. While Archie was learning the new car with much higher down-force and no anti-lock braking, Niccolò had a huge amount to do, adjusting from the F3 cars he has previously driven. The weather and traffic made the task even more difficult and the pair did well to keep the car on track and take three valuable championship points.

Today’s race two was a similar challenge with a wet track reducing grip levels and traffic issues again. The Drivex Porsche was set up for the wet and the team opted for wet tyres throughout the race. Despite running as high as fifth overall, the drying track handed the advantage to those who opted for slicks at the pit-stops and Archie crossed the line in fifth for another three points.

The car now returns to the Drivex base in Madrid for upgrades before the next round in two weeks.

Archie Hamilton:

“It’s great to be back in the car but it would have been much nicer to have had an easier event to start the season. Last year I had almost the exact opposite when I was I the lower class in the wet and I benefitted and took third overall. It’s just one of those things but not the best way to learn a new car. The handling is different and I’m looking forward to getting some dry running to get a better feel. The traction is amazing coming out of low speed corners – we just didn’t have any here!

“I have to say that Niccolò has done really well to have adapted to this type of racing in these conditions. To have done his stints well with just a couple of minor spins and still bring it home fifth was great. It’s a good start to the season. We have some points in the bag and I’m pleased that we’ll be back in the car for another round in Portugal in only two weeks.”

Super GT Championship Standings
1. Montermini-Filippi, 20
2. Talkanitsa Sr, Talkanitsa Jr, 12
3. Login-Sijholf, 12
4. Cameron-Griffin, 12
5. Hamilton-Schirò, 6

Archie next races at Portimao, Portugal on 11th and 12th May.

Archie Hamilton, 21, Hampshire, received his award for finishing third in the International GT Open in Monaco at the weekend. The International GT Open and European F3 Open Awards Ceremony was held at the prestigious Hotel Hermitage, Monte Carlo on Saturday night.

Archie received his award from Jesús Pareja, founder and CEO of GT Sport, the promotor of International GT Open. Mr Pareja was himself a successful sportscar racer, winning several major endurance events and finishing second overall at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1986.

Archie’s plans for next season are underway with details expected to be announced early in the new year. 2013 is the 60th anniversary of his grandfather, Duncan Hamilton, winning the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Archie Hamilton:
“Receiving my award in a setting like this really brought home what a great season 2012 was. Being on a stage with the likes of Gimmi Bruni, Nick Tandy and Marco Holzer made me realise what a big jump we made. We set out to have a learning year and I worked exceptionally hard on my driving and fitness. In fact I recently broke the Grid Fit record at iZone, knocking Moto GP rider Bradley Smith off the top spot. It was really great to hear the Porsche assessor saying that he’d never seen such a fit driver. Changing to international sportscar racing and working with iZone gave me what I needed to progress. I feel a completely different driver to a year ago and can’t wait to continue improving in 2013. It is a big year for my family with it being my grandfather’s Le Mans anniversary and I want to make it a big year for me too so that I can dedicate it to him.

Archie Hamilton showed he had put the summer break to good use with a surge in pace that resulted in another podium for the 21 year old from Basingstoke. With his team-mate Marco Mapelli, Archie claimed another valuable eight points for a second place to keep the championship title within grasp.

Despite having never raced at the Hungaroring track before, Archie was not only straight on the pace but faster than his team-mate for the first time. His form helped negate a mechanical issue in qualifying when his Porsche 997 GT3 R lost second gear and he managed to take sixth in class.

Race one started well for Archie who drove consistently through his stint in the 70 minute race. The penalty advantage was slightly in the Autorlando duo’s favour with only 15 additional seconds in the pits and Marco was able to take full advantage and get out ahead of key rivals. After seven laps he was closing on key rival Dalle-Stelle and with five laps remaining he managed to pass to take second place. Fortune then handed the pair another championship gain with contact between Dalle-Stelle and a back-leading to his retirement. Archie and Marco drove the whole race without power steering, which had failed, further showing the pair’s skill and fitness.

With just five races remaining, the series success penalty was becoming critical and the price of the race one success was a 25 second penalty which was too much to overcome in a closely fought second race. Marco took the car from third to the class lead from the start and held the lead to the lap before the pit stop when he was sent off-track through the gravel by an ambitious overtaking manoeuvre from Stefano Gattuso’s Ferrari. After Archie took the wheel and rejoined after the excruciating 25 second penalty he was seventh in GTS. Despite his pace he was unable to make up the necessary ground and crossed the line without points but knowing that it will be their turn to have a shorter pit-stop at Monza while his championship rivals contend with the longer penalties.

Archie Hamilton:
“This has been a great weekend for me. I’ve trained hard in the break, both mentally and physically, and it’s shown. My pace was really good and for the first time I’ve been at least a match for Marco which makes us even stronger contenders for the title. I’m looking at the championship now and had to let the races come to me. Race one was fantastic and it was important to get those points in the bag while we were relatively low on penalty but race two was always going to be a case of damage limitation. The last races are going to be critical and I’m going to be back in three weeks as strong as I can possibly be.”

Championship Standings:
1. Zampieri/Dalle Stelle 66, 2. Bizzarri 50, 3. Hamilton/Mapelli 58, 4. Rizzoli 40, 5. Puglisis/Beretta 28, 6. Bontempelli 25.#

Archie next races at Monza, Italy on 30th September.

Adam ChristodoulouIn Germany last weekend for round two of the 2012 GT Open Championship, British racing driver Adam Christodoulou was making his debut appearance for the all new Lapidus racing team behind the wheel of a formidable McLaren GT3 MP4-12C.

In the car he was joined by team mate Klass Hummel, and for the weekend’s racing was lined up on a grid comprising of 26 GT2 and GT3 class cars for his first race of the 2012 race season.

The competition was taking place on familiar soil; on the famous twists and turns of the world renowned Nurburgring Grand Prix track. This circuit has become something of a home-away-from-home for the former Formula Renault UK champion in recent years, and as ever would end up providing a great show of excitement-laced race action.

The practice session went off smoothly, but the first drama began in qualifying. when it was cut short after some minor contact with another car that caused a tyre to rupture and small damage to the body. With the vehicle in repair for the rest of the qualifying session, the pair’s time was removed, and it forced the drivers into an uncomfortable last place grid spot for race 1 on Saturday afternoon.

Qualifying two worked out more favourably. With a clean run, the team posted a good time that placed them third in their class, and 8th overall. But the positives didn’t last all that long, and a penalty for crossing the white lines on turn four putting them back to 4th in class and 12th overall.

The first race was a seventy minute sprint. This allowed plenty of time for the team to get to work and start gaining places. Klaas had a great start, blitzing past three cars before turn two, and continuing to chip away at the competition throughout his stint. The pit lane opened around half an hour in and Christodoulou took the wheel for the remaining time, moving up the field to finish fourth in class and snatching the third fastest lap.

The second race was shorter at just fifty minutes long, and with a better starting grid position, the beginning of the race went well. Adam was first in the car this time, and wasted no time getting stuck into overtaking during the chaos going into turn one. Once the race was truly underway, the cars spread out and it eventually became more tougher to overtake. The reins were handed over to Hummel at the half way mark, and by the time the chequered flag was waved, the team had secured a fourth place finish.

It was a great pair of debut results for the team; a podium result seemed just a hairs-breadth away, which bodes well for future rounds of the championship.

Christodoulou next takes to the track for the 3rd round of the GT Open at the Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps circuit, running the 22nd – 24th June, just one week later for his 2012 debut in the BlancPain Endurance Championship at the french Paul Ricard circuit.

With co-driver Marco Mapelli, Archie (21, Hampshire) finished on the GTS podium in both races in the opening round of the International GT Open event at the Portuguese track of Portimao. In the first race yesterday, the Autorlando pairing finished second in class and eighth overall, while in today’s race they won their class and finished an impressive third overall.

Archie qualified the Porsche 997 GT3 R third for race one, 18th overall, after putting in his best lap driving on brand new tyres for the first time. In Marco’s session he claimed second in GTS and eighth on the complete grid.

Saturday’s race one started wet, under the safety car, and Archie was in the car for the first stint. Archie managed to gain overall positions before pitting to hand over to Marco. With a drying track, Marco needed to re-pit to change tyres under the regulations, which dropped the pair down the order, but with slicks on a drying track the Italian was able to make his way through the pack, including an impressive overtaking manoeuvre on class rival Stelle in a Kessel Racing Ferrari, and by the end of the seventy minutes and 35 laps, he crossed the line second in GTS.

Today’s 27 lap/50 minute race started wet but the Autorlando team gambled and chose slicks. Marco had the tough job of starting the race and getting as much grip as he could from the drying racing line. Leading up to the end of his stint, Marco managed to pass class leader Kox in a Goodsense Racing Team Lamborghini for the lead. Pitting for the driver change, including a 10 second ‘success’ penalty for yesterday’s second place, cost the lead and Archie emerged from the pits in second place. Within two laps Archie passed the Kox/Pronk car for the class lead and third overall, and maintained those positions to the chequered flag.

Archie now shares the lead of the International GT Open GTS with his teammate and the Cadei/Bizzarri pairing, all having 18 points.

Archie Hamilton:
“I have to say a huge thank you to the team and Marco. It’s been a dream start the season. The car feels very good – very stable – and it was great to be able to race with the Super GT cars with the conditions. To be on the podium is great – to win the class is fantastic and to be on the overall podium was the icing on the cake. I just want to do it again now! Before Nurburgring I need to switch my focus to Laguna Seca and racing a prototype but I’m already looking forward to getting back in the Porsche.”

Archie next races at Laguna Seca, Monterey, California in the American Le Mans Series on Saturday 12th May. His next round of the International GT Open takes place at the Nurburgring circuit, Germany on 26th/27th May.

Archie Hamilton has competed two days of collective testing at Imola in preparation for his International GT Open season. The test on Tuesday was in very wet conditions but despite it being his first time in the car, Archie beat the times of team mates Roda and Bambini, driving the sister Autorlando car. In the dry on Saturday Archie was able to equal the fastest race lap time from last season of 1:47.2 in his first session, before going faster in the following session. In the final stint Archie completed a race simulation run, during which he achieved his fastest time of the day with a lap of 1:45.256 and the fastest time for the team at the track, despite being on old tyres. Archie finished on top of the time sheets on both days.

Archie Hamilton
“I have to say a big thank you to the team, and Luca, my engineer. Even in the wet I felt at home in the car straight away. I know that testing is very different to racing but getting such good results is a real confidence boost. I’m really looking forward to the season starting next month and hope we can continue the success and score some podiums and wins.”

Archie’s next race is the first International GT Open event at Portimao on 28th April.

Archie will be competing in the International GT Open Championship in 2012 with the Championship winning Autorlando Sport team in the GTS class driving a Porsche 997 GT3 R. The eight round series takes place throughout Europe, starting at the Portuguese circuit of Portimao on 29th April and finishing at the Barcelona circuit in November. Archie’s home race will be the Brands Hatch round in July.

Archie will get his first taste of driving the car as early as next week when he takes part in a private test at Imola. He has already visited the team and had a seat fitting at the headquarters near Milan. Autorlando Sport is masterminded by Orlando Redolfi and has a long endurance racing history. The team has consistently fielded front runners, winning the Le Mans Series in 2006, the GT Open in 2007, and last season finishing second in the International GT Open GTS class. Archie will co-drive with an as yet unnamed second driver.

Archie Hamilton:
“I’m very excited to be starting my first full season in endurance racing. I looked at other series but the GT Open offered great track time and a good quality of teams and competition. Everything just felt right when I went to Milan this week and met the team, who made me feel very welcome and I’m really looking forward to getting started on Tuesday at Imola. I couldn’t be doing this without the support Delaney and Duncan Hamilton Ltd to whom I’m very grateful. I will do my best to get wins and podiums to show that the faith in my ability is justified.”

Orlando Redolfi
“I’m very happy to welcome a young and fast driver like Archie Hamilton to Autorlando Sport. We are very close to securing another young and fast driver as team mate to fight for the International GT Open GTS title with our Porsche GT3R.”