British sportscar racer Michael Lyons will embark on his most exciting and high-profile season yet this year after today, Monday, 23rd March, announcing a dual programme in the European Le Mans Series and Blancpain Endurance Series.
Graduating into the blue riband LMP2 class in ELMS with top team Murphy Prototypes, the Bishop’s Stortford driver will dovetail those commitments with a full programme in the Blancpain Endurance Series at the wheel of a Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia in the Pro-Am Class.
With both championships set to begin on the same weekend, 11th/12th April, Michael will certainly have a particularly exhilarating start to his 2015 season – after racing on home ground at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in round one of the ELMS on the Saturday, he will then fly out to Monza in Italy for the first race of the Blancpain campaign the following day.
“Everything has come together very quickly over the last couple of weeks, it’s absolutely fantastic to be able to combine European Le Mans Series and Blancpain”, said the 24-year-old, “It goes without saying, this is definitely going to be my biggest season yet and we really do have a strong chance to challenge for success in both championships. It seems ages since last season, I can’t wait to start!”
Having become a podium finisher in the LMGTE Class of ELMS last year, Michael’s move up into the headline LMP2 Class for this season sees him join Frenchman Nathanaël Berthon and American racer Mark Patterson at Greg Murphy’s eponymous Irish team. The rapid trio will share driving duties in the No.48 Oreca 03R which is powered by a 4.5-litre V8 Nissan engine.
“I did a test with Murphy last year, it was a tyre test for Dunlop, and it went really well”, added Michael, “We kept in touch and everything has all come together which is absolutely fantastic, it’s a great opportunity to race in LMP2 with Greg’s team. Murphy is a very professional and competitive set-up and I’m confident it should be a fantastic season – we’ve got the right tools for the job.”
In the Blancpain Endurance Series, which exclusively features GT style race cars, Michael has been drafted into the Kessel Racing squad to partner Italian racer Alessandro Bonacini and Polish driver Michael Broniszewski. The trio, striving for title honours in the No.11 Ferrari, posted the second quickest time overall in testing at Paul Ricard in southern France just over a week ago – a great start to 2015.
“The test went really well, the Ferrari felt great and it was fantastic to end second fastest overall on the timesheets”, said the Briton, “It’s great to have been drafted in by Kessel to try and help them win the title, Alessandro and Michael are both very good drivers so it should be a terrific season. I really think we should have a good chance at battling for the championship.”
Equally as bullish about the 2015 season are Michael’s respective team principals at both Murphy Prototypes and Kessel Racing, both of whom are glowing in their praise of the young British racer and thrilled to be working with him this year.
Greg Murphy, owner of the Irish ELMS team, commented: “I am delighted to welcome Michael to the ‘#MurphysMen’ family for 2015. He was very impressive in a number of tests with us recently and, with a proven winning record, is a perfect fit for our team.
“This is the year where I want my team to be regularly on the podium and winning races, so Michael will be joining the experienced Mark Patterson and the rapid Frenchman Nathanaël Berthon to lead our charge. I firmly believe I have assembled one of the strongest driver line-ups in the championship this year.”
Looking ahead to the Blancpain season, Kessel Racing’s sporting director Tiziana Borghi said: “It is a great pleasure for us to announce Michael will compete with Kessel Racing in the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series. He is a fast and complete driver and it is a great opportunity to have him in our team – for sure, he helps us have a great chance this year.”
2015 European Le Mans Series Calendar10th/11th April – Silverstone, UK (4hr race)16th/17th May – Imola, Italy (4hr race)11th/12th July – Red Bull Ring, Austria (4hr race)5th/6th September – Paul Ricard, France (4hr race)17th/18th October – Estoril, Portugal (4hr race)
2015 Blancpain Endurance Series Calendar11th/12th April – Monza, Italy (3hr race)23rd/24th May – Silverstone, UK (3hr race)19th/20th June – Paul Ricard, France (6hr race)24th/25th/26th July – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (24hr race)19th/20th September – Nurburgring, Germany (3hr race)