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Michael Lyons holds off Rob Austin attack to score GP Masters victory

Sunday, May 29 2011

Michael Lyons' Hesketh 308E secured victory in today's Grand Prix Masters race at the Brands Hatch Masters Historic Festival, fighting off a determined attack from pole-sitter Rob Austin driving an Arrows A4.

No sooner had a thrilling contemporary Monaco Grand Prix finished did the historic grid assemble at Brands Hatch, a race which was to prove equally as exciting for the gathered crowd.

Austin lead the field into Paddock Hill Bend from the rolling start, but Lyons was only 0.3 seconds behind at the end of the opening lap. The Hesketh driver fought his way past Austin exiting Stirlings on the second lap, and by the end of the third lap had a lead of 0.7 seconds.

Austin though looked menacing, never out of the mirrors of Lyons and set consecutive fastest laps on lap five and six to add to the mounting pressure. Lyons made a mistake exiting Paddock Hill Bend on lap seven, allowing Austin to close even further, and the pair were separated by inches coming into Graham Hill Bend. By lap seven the gap was down to under three-tenths with the Arrows driver clearly faster.

The pair were in a class of their own, trading fastest laps, and despite continuing to follow each other were leaving the other runners a long way behind. Last years' double winner Bill Coombs was over 40 seconds behind with 10 minutes remaining, with Steve Allen running in fourth pulling his Arrows out of the race on lap 12.

Meanwhile Roger Wills who had qualified his Williams FW05 third for the race elected to start his Lotus 92 which had qualified 12th, and made good progress through the field to run fifth on lap 16, but at the end of the lap his engine cried no more and the New Zealander pulled out of the race in a cloud of smoke.

The pair drew side-by-side on lap 15, but lapped traffic stifled Rob Austin's attack on lap 16, and fell two seconds behind Lyons. But again he fought back, setting another fastest lap on the penultimate lap to bring the gap back to 1.3 seconds. He continued to charge, but had to settle for second, just over half a second behind the victorious Lyons.

Bill Coombs nursed his ill-sounding Tyrrell 009 home in third, well over a minute behind the winners, with Ian Simmonds fourth driving a Tyrrell 012 and Mark Higson fifth in the March 761.

Grand Prix Masters race one result
1. Michael Lyons, Hesketh 308E, 19 Laps
2. Rob Austin, Arrows A4, +0.538s
3. Bill Coombs, Tyrrell 009, +1:21.023s
4. Ian Simmonds, Tyrrell 012, +1 lap
5. Mark Higson, March 761, +1 lap
6. Roger Wills, Lotus 92/5, +3 laps

Tickets for the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch are available on the gate for £21 on Bank Holiday Monday with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click on the link below.