Lyons romps to victory in first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Magny-Cours

From pole, Michael Lyons took a commanding win in the first of two FIA Masters Historic Formula One races at Magny Cours’ Grand Prix de France Historique.

His RAM Williams FW07B taking like a duck to water, Lyons conquered the treacherous wet conditions to take victory by over a minute from Belgian Loïc Deman (Tyrrell 010) and Monegasque Historic F1 rookie Frédéric Lajoux (Arrows A1). Lajoux was second until he was passed by Deman on lap 5, but the former historic F3 driver was still a huge surprise in his first-ever Historic F1 race – and on a wet track at that.

“My rolling start wasn’t perfect”, said the winner. “I got wheelspin, so I was lucky I was able to hold the inside line. I got a good drive through turns 1 and 2, and had no pressure from there”.

“The rest of the time I was checking for things like water in the concrete. These cars are so amazing to drive, even in the rain you feel the downforce. At the end I had a nice fight with Mr Wrigley who was a lap down but fighting his way back up. That kept me on my toes.”

“Yes, I was a little bit faster than Lajoux, and got him on the brakes”, said Deman, who despite his second place wasn’t satisfied. “The car is still too stiff, though, we still have room to improve. It would have been much better if the set-up had been 100% wet.”

“I didn’t expect to be so high up in my first Formula One race”, said a jubilant Lajoux. “In the beginning I thought that I could hold on to second place, but my tyres were getting old and Loïc was faster. So I preferred to ‘manage’ the podium finish. To be frank, an F1 car is not so different from an F3 car. I just have to get my head around to the fact that I have to go faster into a corner to release all the downforce!”

Greg Thornton (Lotus 77) and Max Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A) had a great fight for fourth overall and pre-78 class honours. Smith-Hilliard led initially but Thornton edged closer every lap to grab the class lead on lap 9. The two were the last to finish on the same lap as the winner, such was Michael Lyons’ pace.

“Max and I had a great fight”, said Thornton. “At one time I thought, ‘This is going to end in tears, and it will be my tears!’, so I backed off and then took another run at him. I got him at the hairpin.”

“I forgot where he got me”, laughed Smith-Hilliard, who had been consummately faster than Thornton in qualifying, “but it’s coming back to me now! I don’t want Greg to get all the credit and get too confident!”