Sugo being one of the circuits that suit the Audi R8 we were always confident to get a good result. Qualifying brought us a starting postion of 7th. Although this was our best qualifying to date we still believed there was more to come. Race day brought some tricky conditions and it was challenging from the start. Lap 1 was the biggest test with the Lamborghini spinning in front of me causing me to go on to the grass to avoid it losing me valuable time and places. From there are race started, I could feel the R8 had the legs on the opposition so I pushed forwards and started picking off the cars in front. By the time we pitted we were within striking distance of our first podium for Audi Team Hitotsuyama. My ultra fast team mate, Tomonobu Fujii took over at the pit stop and was able to post fast laps all the way to the finish and claim a well deserved podium for our team.
I’m thrilled to announce that I will join Craft Bamboo Racing for a full season assault on the GT Asia Championship. I will once more be alongside one of my favourite race partners Frank Yu in the Craft Bamboo Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Frank and I have already shared great success with many Pole Positions, Wins and podium finishes. Our Aston Martin has proved to be consistently quick at every circuit we visit and we believe that yet again we have a strong package to challenge for the Championship title.
The GT Asia Championship has grown in terms of numbers a lot in the last few seasons but the competitiveness has has become as strong as any other GT Championship in the world. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel again for the first rounds in Korea on 16th & 17th May.
Here is the full official press release ---------> CLICK HERE.
The full race season calender:
GT Asia Calendar
15 – 17 May,Yeongam, Korea – Round 1 & 2
26 – 28 June, Okayama, Japan – Round 3 & 4
17 – 19 July, Fuji, Japan – Round 5 & 6
4 – 6 September, Sepang, Malaysia - Round 7 (3 Hours)
25 – 27 September, Shanghai, China – Round 8 & 9
23 – 25 October, Buriram, Thailand – Round 10 & 11
20 – 22 November, Macau, China – Invitational
Latest News From
Richard Lyons Racing
Richard Lyons and Tomonobu Fujii score a great opening race 3rd place finish in Okayama in the Japanese SuperGT series.
Click here read Richards personal view on the race and how it went in his Blogspot -------> CLICK HERE
Click here to read all about the action from our friends over at the Audi Motorsport Blog! --------> CLICK HERE
Richard spends some one on one time in an interview with Audi Motorsport Blog from the U.K to see whats happening with Audi Team Hitotsuyama this season.
----------> CLICK HERE <------------
A good start here at my debut on the Korea International Circuit finishing P1 in all three pratice sessions. A great pre race testing but we fight for points on race day!
Until Race day listen to my take on testing here in Korea ----->
Read all about GTasia and see all the results here
-------> CLICK HERE
Follow GTAsia on Facebook
--------> CLICK HERE
Stay tuned on youtube for race replays and live broadcasts
---------> CLICK HERE
Rounds 1&2 of the 2015 GT Asia series brought mixed results for Craft Bamboo Racing & Richard Lyons.
“Its great to be back in GT Asia and to do a complete season. The Korean International Circuit is certainly a very challenging circuit, so far so good. We have been quite quick in all sessions”
Making his debut at the Korean International Circuit, Lyons dominated both Un-Official and Official practice in his Aston Martin Vantage and took pole position in Qualifying for the opening round.
After a combative few opening corners and a yellow flag Lyons unexpectedly found himself down to 4th. Lyons rallied and clawed back the lost places up to 2nd with a great battle against the Maclaren 650s of Andrea Caldarelli but could not chase down the lead car before driver change. Richards team mate Frank Yu guided the Aston home to claim a solid 3rd place podium finish after a nail biting bid for the win fell just short.
Starting P7 in round 2 Frank Yu handed off to Lyons with the Aston sitting in 4th. Lyons turned in lap after lap of super quick times including a 2m:06.567s which beat his own pole winning lap time from Saturdays round 1.
Unfortunately a gear box glitch put Lyons’ #88 Aston Martin out of contention and finished down the order in 9th position.
"Tough end to a promising weekend. Frank had a great opening stint to get us up to 4th, but with a pit stop penalty carrying over from race 1 success, we dropped to p6. I took over and set lap record after lap record to get to 3rd and 2nd looked easy takings, only for a gearbox glitch to drop us to p9."
We now look forward towards rounds 3 & 4 in Japan at Okayama Race Circuit.
GTAsia Round 1 & 2
"It’s a great opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a Ferrari 458 especially within the perfect setting of the world famous Silverstone GP circuit. I would like to thank Gary Eastwood and FF Corse for this invitation to compete. I’ve worked with FF Corse over the last few years on other projects so we already have an established great working relationship. I met Gary last season and was always impressed with his no nonsense approach and speed, he is a great character to have on the British GT grid.
It’s actually hard to believe that this is my debut race at Silverstone GP but I’ve had a few laps last year so it’s not all new and I will be looking to build on that"
British GT, Lyons takes the reins for FF Corse at Silverstone
Click here to visit the home of the Avon Tyres British GT championship --------> HERE
GT Asia Round 3&4
@ Okayama International Circuit, Japan.
Richard Lyons with his #88 interush craft bamboo racing Aston Martin Vantage had a mixed but ultimately succesful weekend.
The weekend was full of spins, crashes and dramas but after two rounds Craft Bamboo came away with a bag full of points with a podium 2nd position in round 4 that has left them leading the Team championship and has left Lyons 4th in the Drivers table.
For full up to date reports head here for more --------> CLICK HERE
“Highs, Lows and finally heading home on a high after our 2nd podium of the season in GT Asia. Race one starting from the front room gave promise for a great result but as it turned out we couldn’t get the result we wanted with an incident packed race. Luckily we came away from the race with a finish and 2 points in the bank."
"Race 2 was a much more exciting race with Frank Yu starting and he got us up to 6th position by the pit stop window after 23 mins. I then took my turn at the wheel and from the get go I had my eyes firmly set on the leading cars. I managed to pass cars every which way and coming onto the final lap was on the leaders tail lights. I gave it everything but with only a few corners to go I had to settle for 2nd spot on the podium.
Overall it was a tough weekend with the Interush Craft Bamboo Aston, showing their true grit to take a double podium."
After a testing couple of practice sessions in topsy turvy weather conditions over the weekend, the FF Corse pairing of Lyons and Eastwood for this weekends Silverstone race had every belief that a great result was within grasp this sunday.
The FF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia showed improving pace throughout practice, improving as both drivers got to grips with the machine.
Unfortunatley about 30 minutes into the race the Aston Martin of TF Sport had inexplicably spun and then strayed into the path of the incoming FF Corse machine with the unavoidable collision ending any hopes of a top finish for Lyons and Eastwood.
"leaving the home of British motorsport on a bit of a low! Although it was great to finally get the chance to turn my first official laps ever on the GP circuit. Starting the race was my team mate, Gary Eastwood in very difficult wet conditions and unfortunately around the 30 min mark he got caught up in someone else's accident, that put us out on the spot! There's been tough races before and it's time to reset and move on to Thailand for some more super gt action."
Lyons and Eastwood Unfortunate at Silverstone
Click here for a full race report over at British GT ------> Race Report
“ Rd 3 of Super GT certainly brings a challenge to any Northern Irish man with travelling across the world from a place where temperatures are barely making double digits on a good day to 37oC on your average day at the Chang International Circuit! This, of course, is the only down side but after a few days to acclimatise, the focus will be firmly on getting the best performance from our Audi R8 Ultra. This is the second time we visit this venue and it’s one circuit that may well have crept into my top 10 in the world as it has just about everything a driver wants from high speed corners to technical medium speed flowing corners. Our sights are firmly set for the podium but I’m sure we’ll come up against some tough opposition.”
Richard Lyons travels to Thailand and will race at the new Chang International Circuit for this years SuperGT round 3. This brand new 4.5Km long stretch of Thai track will be a race hard fought in extreme conditions in Thailands hot Buriram region. Stay tuned to Richard Lyons Racing for details on when & where to watch this race weekend! #Flatout
SuperGT Round 3
Chang International Circuit
It doesn't get any hotter than this! Temperatures as high as 38°C were recorded at the Chang International Circuit located in Thailand's Buriram province.
With a solid qualifying behind them and an already proven race pace, hopes were high of a good result here in Thailand. Unfortunately things were not to work out this time for the number 21 R8 Ultra in the challenging heat and humidity
“Not the result we were hoping for! Starting from 7th gave us hope of a podium finish but after only a few laps it was clear we had big engine overheating issues.
Unfortunately when I took over the wheel on lap 23 things didn't get any better with a further delay in the pit stop. I was then able to record fast laps but being a lap down already meant it was in vain. In the end we retired a few corners from the chequered flag. I am now only looking forward to the next races and can't wait to be back on the podium soon!”.
SuperGT Round 3,
Chang International Circuit Buriram, Thailand.
For a full race report on the weekends race in Thailand please head over to SuperGT.net, follow the link -----------> CLICK HERE.
GT Asia Rounds 5&6
Fuji International Speedway
GT Asia moves the season on and into rounds 5 & 6 this weekend at Fuji Speedway, Japan.
Located at the foot of Japans famous and iconic Mt Fuji and with one of the worlds longest straights and great technical sections coupled with the possibility of unpredictable weather its sure to shape up as another great weekend of racing in GT Asia.
“I consider Fuji my home circuit as I have raced at this particular venue more times than any other (Globally) with the most success! I took my first win here with Nismo in 2003 (GT 500, Skyline GTR), my first pole in Super Formula (Formula Nippon)and my last win in GT 500 with Lexus in 2010, also scoring numerous other podiums here throughout my career. Over this time Fuji has been good to me but also it’s been known to bite a little. We are currently standing 4th in the championship with plenty in the pocket and at this time of year it is the rainy season so I expect mixed and unpredictable weather conditions meaning that a plan of attack is going to be somewhat difficult.
In any case, I’m with the best team and personnel so I expect to be fighting at the sharp end!”
SuperGT hits its halfway point in the championship season and its back at Fuji Speedway Japan for round 4. Fuji Speedway, the only track to feature twice in the SuperGT calendar; and will again be tricky for the Hitotsuyama racing/WRT combinations R8 Ultra, but after some great testing and preparation through the June and July break in action they will be looking for a strong finish at this famous track.
"Looking forwards to getting back out there in our Super GT Audi R8 at Fuji Speedway for Rd 4.
This past week WRT staff joined with Hitotsuyama team to prepare and train for the upcoming races. Fuji hasn't brought us much luck recently but I feel that we have prepared well so look forwards to some just rewards.
SuperGT Round 4 Fuji Speedway
This year in SuperGT sees the 44th running of the 1000KM race at Suzuka Circuit in Mie prefecture, Japan.
Suzuka International Circuit built in 1962 is Japans jewel in the crown, host to F1 and is openly rated by drivers as one of the best circuits in the world is sure to come up trumps in Japans punishing summer heat with another hard fought and exciting SuperGT race.
SuperGT Round 5
“Rd5 marks the second half of the season and with that comes my strongest and most favourable circuits.
Past experience recently has not given us any advantage of late but maybe the best way to look at things is that this is certainly not a disadvantage.
Suzuka Rd 5 is Super GT’s biggest and longest race of the year being a brutal 1000km race in summer heat, with extra points on the table compared to the normal 300KM races it certainly ups the ante.
Suzuka is traditionally the Japanese equivalent of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, it has everything that a driver could possibly demand. However, our weak area has been straight-line speed (Regulated by each Championship) and this is highlighted with the extremely high ambient temperatures (35oC + June through September) in Japan which makes our Audi R8 V10 run on the limit.
Our goal for the weekend has to be solid points and if theres chances to pick up extra points then we have to be in a prime position to take advantage.
It’s going to be a hot weekend, not only for the car but for the drivers, let’s see how it all plays out."
“A great finish to an amazing race which threw just about everything at us. As a
team we are really happy with our performance, our mechanic’s recorded their
fastest pitstops ever and our strategy played out perfectly.
The race started off in wet conditions and from turn 1 I knew it was game on for
some solid points. I clawed my way through the field to get up to 6th before pitting
for the first of 4 stops. My team mate Fujii-San took the wheel in the worst
conditions and was consistently lapping with the top times."
Starting and ending in wet conditions, the 44th running of the Suzuka 1000Km race was nothing short of almost 6 hours of great SuperGT racing. Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama turned in a great performance for a solid finish in 5th place in demanding conditions. Heading into the second half of the SuperGT season these were some solid points for the man from Belfast and his team.
SuperGT Round 5
"I was back in for the middle and things got pretty racey at this point, with 2 safety car periods to collect the carnage from the scraps throughout the field. Soon all was calm and we got back on course with the second 500km, at this point we could see that a top 6 was on the table.
Fujii-San and I worked in harmony with our team strategy to bring home Audi Team Hitotsuyama’s first top 5 finish in the famous Suzuka 1000km!”
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GTAsia Round 7
With the preparation underway for his second endurance race in the space of a week, Richard Lyons continues in Asia with GTAsia and the Interush Craft Bamboo racing team in Sepang, Malaysia. This glorious F1 circuit will play host to GTAsia’s first endurance race in it’s series history, 3hrs of intense racing is expected in tough hot conditions around the 5.5Km track. Appearing on all steps of the podium in the past at Sepang this is a track Lyons feels at home with.
“I am returning this weekend to Sepang, Malaysia, to a track I really enjoy and have had reasonable success at.
Although the last time I was here a few years ago has left me with memories of having to carry a wheel to the far side of the circuit at midnight to repair our car!! That was the Sepang 12hr and this time although only 3 hrs, its still going to be super hot and the competition will be strong.
In the previous rounds luck has not been with us but we have put that behind us and come out with a fresh mind and a rebuilt car. Our team has worked long hours in preparation and we are all set to give it everything. Lets see whats in store…”
Round 6, Sugo Sportsland
Sugo Sportsland, and round 6 of 2015’s SuperGT campaign for Richard Lyons. Sugo race circuit is an established race track owned by Yamaha and just one part of a huge motorsports complex nestled into the countryside in the small town of Murata in Miyagi prefecture, Japan. At 3.7Km long this track is always good value for great racing on its famously rural and narrow track.
“Sugo is where I scored my first Super Formula podium back in 2002, also just last year, we scored our first podium in GT300 with our Audi R8 for Audi Team Hitotsuyama.
Sugo is a great event that normally has mixed conditions throughout the weekend. I really enjoy this circuit and I think our car is quite suited for the layout.
Again we aim for a podium but solid points wouldn't be a bad thing either.”
Round 8 & 9
Richard Lyons flies away to continue the fight in GTasia this weekend (26-27/9). The Hillsborough man will be returning to Asia at the Shanghai International circuit in China for rounds 8 & 9 with Craft Bamboo Racing and Frank Yu, piloting their Aston Martin Vantage around the long 5.4Km long Circuit.
"coming into the final 2 race weekends, we now have to change our tactics a little. We'll be only looking for podium finishes from this point and Shanghai proved to suit our package last year. Maximum attack until the season end!!”
The last two rounds of GT Asia will be taking place this weekend at the newly built Chang International circuit in Thailand. Weighing in at 12 turns and 4.5 KM of hot humid Thai tarmac, this FIA grade 1 circuit is going to be a test for the AMR package.
Having raced here this year already in SuperGT, Richard is hoping he has an edge on the competition which as always will be very competitive with the field boasting works drivers and other world class GT drivers from around the world
“Chang International Circuit brings me to the final 2 races of this seasons GT Asia Championship, and with it a chance to score that elusive win that has been promising all season. Frank and I are pumped and ready to achieve a great result, but also we have our eyes firmly set on winning the teams title.
Currently we are lying in 2nd position, but a strong weekend by both of our cars and we could be putting our names on the title. We are looking forward to getting stuck into business! “
Lyons to compete in maiden
FIA GT World Cup
Richard Lyons will complete Craft-Bamboo Racing’s three-car assault at the inaugural FIA GT World Cup in Macau this November. He will join previously announced, Hong Kong’s Darryl O’Young, and seal the teams’ official manufacturer entry of three Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3s at the maiden event. With a trio of professional drivers and factory backed cars at their disposal, Craft-Bamboo Racing are focused on taking the first ever FIA GT World Cup title.
Read more HERE.
SuperGT Final Round
Motegi Twin Ring, Japan
This years SuperGT championship reaches its final round and in keeping with tradition the action will be hosted by Motegi twin ring circuit. Located in Tochigi and built in 97’ by Honda, this track is unusual in both layout and features, with an oval circuit and a road track overlapping each other.
Known by most as a famous circuit on the MotoGP calendar, this Honda owned track has seen more than its fair share of motorsports action over the years.
Motegi has played host to both Indycar and NASCAR rounds in the past, with MotoGP, SuperGT and Super Formula still being regulars at the track.
With weather conditions unpredictable and a course length of 4.8KM set out over a fairly flat course (by Japanese standards), this course has its quirks and is sure to provide another great round of SuperGT to round out the season on a high.
“Motegi brings us to the final round of this years Super GT season and with it I’m hoping will be our next best chance to score some more good points.
Motegi in 2002 saw me score my first win for Honda in their GT 500 NSX, and in GT300 with Hitotsuyama Racing just last year we fought hard for a podium position but just missed out. Twin ring Motegi wouldn’t be among my favourite tracks but I’ve had great results here in the past and the racing is always good.
Brake wear is normally the critical factor with long straights into numerous tight 2nd gear corners so a delicate touch is needed and hopefully that will see us bring home a podium to round the year out in Japan.“
FIA GT3 World Cup
Macau GP Circuit
This year see’s the very first running of the FIA GT3 World Cup in Macau, and with it a chance to see some of the best and fastest GT drivers in the world.
The race will take place on the famous Macau street course which comes in at a long 6.2KM of blind corners and a fast straight topping speeds of 170mph. Famous for the diverse nature of its layout.
Racing in Macau is not for the fainthearted, with almost every corner somewhat blind, confidence is key especially as this vicious circuit is famous for biting drivers where it hurts.
With a lineup featuring teams and drivers from almost every GT championship around the globe from USC in America to SuperGT in Japan and everything in between including WEC and Blancpain representatives, its sure to be a fantastic weekends racing in Asia to top off the season and to find out who will be 2015’s top dog.
“It's been a long road to get to my first attempt at the incredibly famous Macau GP street circuit, and with it being the FIA GT3 World Cup, this adds extra weight to how important this event is to me.
I know it's going to maybe be one of the toughest races I've ever competed in, and with not having any experience at this venue it's hard to define a realistic goal without a few practice runs.
I really can't wait till Thursday to get behind the wheel of my Aston Martin and finally let rip!“
Richard Lyons will again join forces with Audi Team Hitotsuyama in 2016 in what is sure to be another positive step forward for the famous Japanese racing outfit and the Hillsborough native.
There are many reasons for pre-season positivity in 2016 for Lyons and Hitotsuyama, they will be running and competing in the brand new R8 LMS, a machine that has been updated significantly from its last incarnation.
Sporting a 5.2 litre NA V10 which when unrestricted can pump out 570+BHP, and weighing in lighter than its older versions, it has already been victorious at both the Nurburgring 24hr and this years Daytona 24hr since its release in 2015.
Importantly, Hitotsuyama has renewed its relationship with Belgian outfit WRT whose Blancpain series title winning engineers will be in technical support.
With all the experience and data gained from their collaboration last season, WRT and Hitotsuyama racing will be looking to build on last years points haul. With shakedown complete and official pre-season testing for SuperGT due to be kicking off, Lyons will be chomping at the bit to get back out on track
Richard Lyons and Hitotsuyama Racing
Lining up together for
“I’m super excited that again I will join Audi Team Hitotsuyama for the 2016 SuperGT championship in Japan. This year we will be competing with the new and long anticipated R8 LMS which has already has been winning races in its short life span. We will also be teaming up again with WRT from Belgium and will be able to draw on their experience to help us start the season on the podium.
I would like to thank the Hitotsuyama family and all their partners and sponsors for again asking me to compete for the team and give us the chance to fight for the 2016 Championship”
Lyons Back on Track For SuperGT
Richard is currently jetting out from Belfast and back to Japan and ready to put his new 2016 whip to the test. The first test of the 2016 calendar is being held in Okayama. We will see a new tyre supplier for the team, having struck a deal with Dunlop for the 2016 season.
Lyons will also be getting more wheel time in the new R8 LMS, a new machine, at a track that has been good to both himself and Hitotsuayama. Last season Lyons and Fuji claimed a podium 3rd at this circuit on their way to the best season points haul Hitotsuyama racing have ever achieved in SuperGT.
When testing is over and the dust settles, Richard will be looking to further what he has already achieved during his time with the SuperGT outfit and push on for a cracking 2016 season in Japan.
“This weekend marks the start of Official testing. Most teams have been doing some private testing, so this will see the first meeting of the competition all together. This year will see the biggest amount of new cars on the grid with many of the manufacturers debuting new models for 2016. I really can’t wait to see all the new cars and to check out how we stack up against them.
Official testing is normally held over two days, comprising of two 2 hour sessions. Over that time we focus on many things, but the key items will be tire compounds (for endurance and qualifying performance), base set up to find a setting that is optimal for both drivers and pit stop practice for all the team working together (Wheel change, Fuel and driver change).
Most teams will do the same, and over that time all drivers and teams will be watching each other intensely to see who might have the edge. The great thing about this first test is everyone shows off their new team colours and car designs, there are always a few interesting concepts which I’m sure you’ll all get to see soon.
I’m currently traveling to Okayama so please check my social for pics and updates of testing.”
Richard Lyons and Craft Bamboo Racing renew partnership for 2016 GT Asia attack.
Richard Lyons has signed for a second season with Hong Kong based Craft Bamboo Racing for the 2016 GT Asia series. After a tough and hard fought season in 2015 with Craft Bamboo Racing, Lyons and Yu are out for blood this coming season. Craft Bamboo Racing have a change of technical partner for 2016, they will be welcoming Porsche into the fold. Porsche’s 911 GT3 RS will be Craft Bamboo’s weapon of choice for GT Asia. The 911 is an excellent piece of engineering and a formidable machine on track, with its 4 litre, flat-6 naturally aspirated engine pumping out 500 + horses on it’s way to smashing 200mph. GT Asia’s campaign is set to be played out over four countries, twelve rounds, six world class circuits and in the most challenging of conditions. The tracks on the 2016 campaign trail include China’s Shanghai international F1 circuit and the world famous Fuji international Speedway in Japan.
"It’s Fantastic to be joining Craft Bamboo Racing for my 2nd Full time season in the ever growing GT Asia Championship. This will be a big year for us, with changing to the new Porsche 911 GT3 RS. I’ve already completed some laps in Europe in the new car and it promises to be really strong. It’s also great to be in a team that has one of the strongest engineering bases which will be critical having to learn the new 911. We have high expectations going into the season but we have to keep our feet on the ground to see what the competition brings. In any case we’ll be coming out of the box and raring to go flat out!"
Round 1 Okayama Circuit
This weekend sees the start of the SuperGT 2016 campaign for Hillsborough local Richard Lyons and his team, Audi Team Hitotsuyama.
Lyons will take the wheel of the new spec Audi R8 for the 2016 season with great optimism, and will be looking to build on last seasons efforts.
Dunlop join the fold as new tyre suppliers to Hitotsuyama, and Blancpain winning outfit WRT will again be behind the scenes in technical support, helping to guide Lyons and the team to even better results this season.
The opening round at Okayama is historically good for Lyons and his R8, scoring a strong podium 3rd last season on opening day.
The 13 turn, 3.7 KM circuit founded in 1988 is a technical circuit and well suited to the R8, the opposition will no doubt be aware of this and will be pulling out all the stops. All eyes will be looking towards Lyons and race partner Tomonobu Fujii this coming weekend to deliver the goods, scoring another opening day podium would be a fitting start to a potentially amazing season of SuperGT racing.
“At last the start of a new season, I think most of us racers can’t wait to rip into some racing after months of preparations. Okayama Circuit opens the Super GT season, last year it was good to us netting a podium, and this year we hope for much of the same. Although with so many new cars on the grid it really is hard to know where we’ll end up but as a team we’ve really made massive improvements.
The last few weeks we’ve had a very intensive tire development programme, as well as pit stop practice and other small fine tuning that goes into preparing for a season.
I feel this is the best prepared we’ve been as a team, and I expect our Audi R8 LMS and all of our Audi Team Hitotsuyama to be fighting at the front from round 1.”
Super GT got underway with round 1 this weekend and saw Lyons in action at the Okayama international circuit, Japan.
Much was expected from the new R8 of Audi Team Hitotsuyama, and the new machine showed flashes of great promise after its bumpy yet solid first performance of this years racing calendar. Although solid points were scored, Lyons and his team will be looking for more out of both their machine and themselves for Round 2 at Fuji Speedway in just under three weeks.
“We had a fairly strong weekend after an initially tough start in free practice on Saturday morning.
A mechanical problem with the gearbox meant we only got a few runs in before qualifying and meant we weren't able to fine tune our set up for the optimum lap time. My team mate Fujii didn't get to drive at all in free practice, so his qualifying performance was impressive as it was his first laps of the weekend.
I netted us 6th in the final qualifying which is Audi Team Hitotsuyama's best qualifying position to date. With that in mind we were looking good for a strong race performance.
We started the race off reasonably strong with Fujii taking the first stint, however after around 19 laps he radioed in to say he was having difficulty with his tires. Not long after he lost a lot of pace and was forced to pit earlier than our optimum strategy. A slow pit stop compounded our difficulties with an almost 35 second loss from the tires to the pit stop. I pitted out with 45 laps to do, and had a fight on my hands to get us back into the point scoring positions.
For the first 20 laps I had to conserve the tires as we didn't need a repeat of the first stint, so I kept pace with the guys in front and once I was happy I could reach the finish I let rip and started carving through the field. I also managed to give the body work a little christening a long the way…..
It turned out to be one of my most enjoyable races as I got to pass many cars and perhaps make one of my best passes of all time.
I started the last lap 3 seconds off 7th place (the 2015 championship winning car), and from what I could see they were struggling with damaged tires. I got my head down and pushed like crazy. I got to his bumper with 3 corners to go and he went to the inside on the last corner to defend and I cruised down his outside and managed to hold it to get us a hard earned 7th place.
Lots learnt over the weekend and plenty of potential for the season ahead.”
With the season now underway for SuperGT, its time for the first of two rounds at this iconic circuit. Nestled in at the foot of mount Fuji, this track will be posing a significant challenge for Lyons and Audi Team Hitotsuyama. The racing at Fuji speedway has been hard on the R8 over the years but with the introduction of the new R8 LMS this season, things might just be looking up for the GT300 outfit.
The race will be taking place on Japans most famous holiday period, “Golden week”. Being within an easy drive to Tokyo, massive crowds in the region of 100’000 cramming the stands will be expected, and all will be expectant of a great race which as always Fuji International Speedway will provide.
Fuji International Speedway
“Fuji is a circuit I quite enjoy but in recent years luck has not been on our side. It's not known to be the R8's strongest circuit but winter testing showed that with this years car we might have found some pace. This time it's a 500km race and changeable weather for race day so it might throw up some great racing. A podium would be great but solid points are the target”
GT Asia Round 1
Korea International Circuit
Round 1 of the 2016 GT Asia series and Richard Lyons steps into Craft Bamboo
Racings brand new Porsche 911 GT3. Taking a step into challenging territory in a
new machine, and with testing well underway prior to race day, Lyons and race
partner Frank Yu will be honing in on ideal race settings. After being ultra
competitive in Korea last season, taking pole position and a podium third, Lyons will
be taking aim at the top step this time out.
Situated just south of Seoul, this 5.62KM long Korean International Circuit will
undoubtedly provide Craft Bamboo racing and its new weapon with many
challenges. But if last season is anything to go by Lyons and Yu will come out of the
“This week sees the first running for us with the new Porsche 911 GT3. We will
have two test days on Monday and Tuesday to get to know this new machine
followed by the first two rounds at the weekend.
For now it's difficult to have a target but for sure Craft Bamboo Racing crew will be
working on making it a championship contender.
Looking forwards to another new challenge.”
Rounds 3 & 4
Thailand, Chang International Circuit
Hilsborough man Richard Lyons heads east for rounds 3 & 4 of GT Asia which take place this weekend in Thailand at the Chang international Circuit.
This circuit opened in 2014 and is already a staple a fixture in major world circuit racing, having hosted both SuperGT and World Superbikes. Weighing in at 12 turns and 4.54Km’s worth of asphalt, it is once again set to show us some great racing, but the weather and the punishing humidity will also have a role to play. Using past experience at this relatively new track, Lyons will be looking to push on and improve on past results.
After the unfortunate incidents in rounds 1&2, Lyons and Craft Bamboo Racing will be itching to prove their point in Thailand and banish those memories.
“Buriram is a circuit I really enjoy with its medium/high speed flowing corners.
Leaving rounds 1&2 and the frustration they gave us behind, we gained vital knowledge of our new Porsche 911 GT3, now we can focus on getting the best out of our new toy.
Friday official practice will be very important to us. We will try some of the new setup conclusions we've been working through.
Frank has already proven his speed there last year so together we're pushing for the podium”
GT Asia kicks off the first two rounds of its Japan tour this weekend. The first two rounds will be held at Okayama International Circuit, a circuit nestled in the mountains of Mimasaka and one of the shortest tracks in Asia, consisting of just 3.7Km of racing asphalt. The opening rounds of GT Asia have proved tough for the promising new partnership of Craft Bamboo Racing and Porsche but with the experience of Ulsterman Lyons and Frank Yu, they are determined to make this weekends outing a much more competitive affair. Conditions are always eventful here, ranging from clear blue skies to hailstones in the same day, this may be all the help that is needed to propel the 911 GT3 R and Lyons to a much welcome points haul and some more notches on the experience belt for the team.
“Japan marks the middle of the season and my “home” races in GT Asia, I say “home” because I have held a Japanese license for the past 16years!
Okayama International Circuit is our first stop of this Japan stint and a circuit that may well suit the Porsche, but its still difficult to call as we don’t have a lot of experience with this new car. The weather could also play a part as at this time of year as it’s not too dissimilar to good old Irish rainy days. If this is the case and its bad weather, we are quite confident to be giving the opposition plenty to think about .
It’s been a slow start for Frank and I this season and with my experience in Japan I hope we can look forward to getting on the podium.”
With its second consecutive round in Japan, the GT Asia tour now stops at Fuji International Speedway. This circuit, famous as much for its challenging layout as it is for its location at the foot of Mt Fuji, will be the battleground for rounds 7 & 8 of the 2016 GT Asia campaign.Its been a tough season thus far for Lyons and the Craft Bamboo Racing team with fortune and lady luck really not smiling down on their championship charge. But as with everything, hard work and dedication to the excellent Porsche 911 GT3 R platform will pay dividends, much is still to be learned.
Bags of potential have already been seen in the Porsche, and the 4.56Km long track just a stones throw away from Tokyo may be the place where that potential is unlocked. Weather at this time of year in Japan still unpredictable, and the Porsche still an unknown quantity in the field, the words “Dark Horse” come to mind. Lyons and Frank Yu both have great experience at Fuji with Lyons claiming more than half a dozen podium finishes including 3 SuperGT wins at this fabled track, so you have to feel that the best is yet to come.
“Another “home” race weekend for me and feeling positive that we can show a little of what we have learnt from a very testing and difficult first half of the season. Okayama ultimately turned into a bit of a test for us in the end, but these type of weekends strengthen my resolve and only make a team like ours stronger. Frank and I are more hungry than ever and we aim to leave nothing on the table.
Our Interush Porsche crew have been working flat out to get us ready for the challenge of Fuji Speedway, such a formidable circuit. Let’s see if this is our weekend!”
Sugo Sportsland, Japan
Round 3 of the 2016 SuperGt championship at Autopolis was cancelled due to the tragic earthquake in Kumamoto earlier this year. SuperGT as a consequence moves directly into round 4 at Sugo Sportsland. After a successful podium filled weekend in GT Asia, Richard Lyons now moves at full steam back into SuperGT with Audi Team Hitotsuyama.
Recent testing at Sugo has yielded useful data for Lyons and Team Hitotsuyama, and the team posted field leading times. With both man and machine performing well, the scene is set for another great weekends racing, at a circuit that has long been favourable to the R8 and its famed ability around corners.
Sugo itself is a tricky narrow track set amongst the forests of Murata in Japans Miyagi prefecture. Measuring up at 3.73Km, this relatively short Yamaha owned track is chock full of character and always produces great racing, one thing is for sure, Lyons and partner Fujii will be itching to get out on the asphalt.
“It seems so long ago since the last Super GT race, but in the last few weeks we’ve been working hard with testing at both Sugo and Suzuka. Sugo is where Hitotsuyama Racing and I secured our first podium together and its been a circuit that the Audi R8 goes well at. As always at this time of year and particularly in the mountainous Sugo region, the rain/fog and clouds are never far away. We have made good steps forward with our qualifying performances this year and over the last few weeks have worked on race performance and wet set ups.
I feel Sugo is a good opportunity to get our Audi Team Hitotsuyama R8 back on the podium again and get in to the title fight!”
Fuji International Speedway
Richard Lyons pays his 3rd visit and fourth race to one of the worlds most famous circuits, Fuji International Speedway. As a former F1 circuit and host of many major motorsport competitions, this 4.56Km Toyota owned circuit has a special place in Japans motorsport culture. It is made even more special by its location which is at the foot of Mt Fuji, Japans most revered icon.
This year Fuji Speedway has yielded great results for the Hillsborough native. Finishing on the podium twice with Craft Bamboo last time out and a well fought and deserved 7th placing earlier in the year in round 2 of this series, SuperGT. This circuit in particular is always tough on the Audi, but with points delivered and competitive lap times, there is no reason why the R8 cannot perform this time out. After being robbed of a possible podium by mechanical problems at Sugo last month, Lyons & co are out to make amends.
With summer in full swing, the grandstands along its almost 1 mile long start/finish straight will be packed and awaiting some great racing. The worlds premier GT series never fails to deliver.
“Back to Fuji for the final time this year and it’s been decent so far with a 7th from Super GT and a couple of Podiums a few weeks ago in GT Asia. It’s maybe not the best circuit for our R8 but last time out it proved to be quite competitive. We have been getting closer to the overall pace and consistently in the top 3 GT3 cars although the JAF Regulated cars have some advantage over us.
We’ll focus in Free Practice for a good qualifying pace and hopefully that will help secure a good starting position that we can build on. A podium at Fuji may be difficult this weekend but I’m sure we’ll be in the mix”.
Rounds 9 & 10
Looking to make a strong finish to their campaign and build on recent good form, Lyons and Craft Bamboo Racing are making preparations for the final two rounds of GTasia. This season sees the Shanghai rounds take place on the full F1 circuit, previous seasons saw the running of the races on the shorter variant. The full circuit weighs in at 5.4Km, with some very fast straights and tight corners, 16 of them in total. The weather, as always, will be hot and humid, providing another challenge for the drivers of GTasia. With over 15 seasons of racing in Asia under his belt, Lyons will be very used to these punishing conditions, and ready to step up the game and take Craft Bamboo Racing and Porsche to the next step on the podium.
“Coming from a double podium in the last two rounds of GTasia in Japan, we’re hoping that this is concrete foundations for more. Shanghai has been a strong circuit for me in the past, but this time we will use the full F1 circuit so a few extra corners to learn. My race partner, Frank Yu, has been getting more and more comfortable with each passing lap in our Porsche, and we’ve been working closely to keep up this momentum. We have a success penalty to serve in the coming races after our endeavours in the previous rounds, but I’m hoping that we can still sneak another podium and move up the championship order.”.
The Suzuka 1000Km is the blue ribbon event of SuperGT, the biggest race of the year with big rewards for the winners and extra points up for grabs. Hillsborough man Richard Lyons will be gunning for top honours this time out. With Audi team Hitotsuyama, Lyons has been heartbreakingly close to GT300 victory and has performed impressively well here in the past.
This Hugenholtz designed circuit, a driver favourite, measures up at 5.8Km, with 17 turns including some of the most famous fast corners of the world, the “S” curves, the Spoon, and of course, the fearsome 130R.
Lyons and Tomonobu Fujii will be looking to build on the success of last rounds brilliant second position at Fuji Speedway, the car and the team has the potential to make it to the top step, and what better a race to score a victory at than the Suzuka 1000Km?
Currently sitting 5th in the rankings, a win here would propel the team right into the title race with 3 rounds left to fight. There is all to play for this weekend.
“Suzuka 1000Km is the big one on the Super GT calendar. I have been on the podium numerous times in GT500 throughout my career, but GT300 has somehow escaped my grasped and eluded me. This weekend marks my 4th anniversary with Audi Team Hitotsuyama and it was in 2012 that we came the closest to victory at the 1000km. We fought our way up the field to claim 2nd position and we were fast closing in on the leading car, but with the final 30 mins remaining a fuel related problem put us out of the race. Last year we were also strong, but this year so far we have had an even stronger package. The last few weeks has seen us working hard behind the scenes and our eye is firmly fixed on getting a win this time round.”.
Thailand, Chang International Circuit
This weekend finally sees the return to SuperGT action for Richard Lyons and Audi Team Hitotsuyama. The SuperGT circus packs its bags and heads out to Thailand to take on the Chang International Circuit and the many challenges it provides. Chief amongst these challenges is the sweltering conditions faced by the team and driver which will only be compounded by the FIA grade 1 circuit and its demanding medium to high speed corner sections that dominate this 4.54KM track.
Having a long summer break from both SuperGT and GT Asia, Lyons will be recharged and ready for a big push towards the championship top spot. With a favourable outing this weekend, Lyons and teammate Fujii would be catapulted right back into the running for championship honours and another record points haul for the Audi R8 powered outfit.
“After a long late summer break its time to get back behind the wheel again and straight in at the deep end at Buriram circuit, Thailand.
At home In Ireland temperatures are struggling to get to 15 ̊C and this weekend it’ll be around 35 ̊C ambient and around 60 ̊C in the cockpit, so I expect it’ll be a bit sweaty.
In any case, I really can’t wait to get back to it, as I love the Buriram circuit although it hasn’t harvested great results in the past. This will be the first time we drive this new Audi there but from what Ive seen in other series the new R8 LMS seems to be quite well suited to it.
Its getting to the business end of the season and we now need big points on the board for this weekend to get us back in to swinging distance for the title. I’m confident with the things we’ve learnt in past races and experience at this venue that we can be fighting at the sharp end!”.
Shanghai International Circuit
The final race of GT Asia for 2016 gets underway in Shanghai this coming Wednesday and Thursday. While not in the title hunt, there is still plenty to prove for Lyons and Yu.
Its been a tough rollercoaster transitional season for Lyons and Craft Bamboo Racing, bedding in and getting to grips with a new machine was never going to be an easy task. Lessons have been learned and information gathered all season long to prepare and help form a solid base for the coming seasons.
The Shanghai International Circuit has hosted GT Asia multiple times, and all the teams will be very familiar with the 5.45Km stretch of Chinese asphalt and will be looking to have one last great performance to close out the calendar.
“A return to Shanghai for the final rounds of the Championship gives us another chance to reach the Podium. It has been a character building year so far, and perhaps we under estimated the challenge of changing our manufacturer this year. However, we have shown flashes and glimpses of good speed all season, and feel each race meeting that we get closer to matching our competitors.
The race schedule has been moved to Wednesday and Thursday with both races on the latter. This means a compacted itinerary with plenty to get through, but I know our team can handle it. Also exiting news of our new partnership with Shang Peng which will see a new car design as well as new race suits. I’m hoping this will be a kind of lucky charm in our fight for victory!”.
Round 8 and Special Final round for Kunamoto
A full card of SuperGT action for Richard Lyons this weekend in Japan, with a testing double header of races to be played out at Twin Ring Motegi. After the cancellation of round 3 earlier in the season due to a severe earthquake in Kumamoto, SuperGT has in addition to the main race organised a second championship race to honour the area, and to complete the 8 race calendar for 2016. Twin Ring Motegi is a fairly flat 4.8 Kilometres of Japanese asphalt with a stop - start style of layout with tight cornering, this could play into the hands of Lyons and his R8 to chalk up yet more points. With the championship being so wide open in GT300, a lot of teams have all to play for this weekend which will open up the racing, and be sure to provide lots of fireworks of the racing kind.
“The final rounds of Super GT have came around quite quickly, and this time its a very unique finish as we have 2 rounds over the last weekend. This means that a lot of teams are going into this weekend with the possibility of becoming champion, and as the weekend plays out tensions will be high. Motegi I feel should be a strong showing for us, and I’m hoping that as we are heading back to cooler conditions, this will allow the Audi and our Dunlop tires to have some advantage over our competitors. Dunlop have had very strong and even dominate results in this final round in previous years. As a team we’re really motivated for a great result even though we had a troubled race back in Thailand, but that is behind us and we’re all smelling success at Motegi”.
Motegi Twin Ring Circuit
Motegi Twin Ring Circuit race 1 Saturday 12th Nov 2016
It was a historic milestone win for Lyons and Audi Team Hitotsuyama in the SuperGT GT300 class today. The flawless performance and victory at Twin Ring Motegi has put Lyons and Team in with a fighting chance of clinching a championship win. Tomorrow will see the second race of the weekends double header play out to a packed Twin Ring circuit where all drivers will be racing with no handicap ballast in a straight up fight to the chequered flag. Lyons will be hoping to add the GT300 title to his cabinet to complete his hat trick of domestic Japanese titles, having already won the GT500 and the Super Formula titles.
“What an amazing day! We scored our first win for Audi here at Motegi, which is also the place of my very first win in Super GT back in 2002! Dunlop, Audi, Hitotsuyama Racing and my team mate Fujii-San, all combined perfectly today to get us in with a shot of the title with one more race to go tomorrow. From yesterdays practice session I could see that we had great speed and that transformed into really good pace for Qualifying securing P2. When the lights went green in the race I was totally focused on doing whatever was needed to get us this win. Just before the pit stop we took the lead and showed our pace, my team mate Fujii-San gave a strong performance finish to secure the win. Tomorrow is a completely a fresh start again, but with this win under our belt and 9 points off the lead we have to be at least one of the favourites for the Championship win!”.
FIA GT World Cup
Macau GP, China
Richard Lyons will once again be competing against some of the best drivers in the world on the streets of Macau. Taking another shot at the FIA GT World Cup crown. Top drivers from SuperGT, Blancpain and W.E.C amongst other competitions will descend upon the infamous Macau street circuit to compete for this title. This time around Lyons will be aiming to better his fortunes after being shunted out of contention last year. The Porsche 911 GT3 R has had a tough maiden season in GTasia, but the #88 car which has shown flashes of great speed all year, will be up to the task. The famous Macau GP circuit was devised over 60 years ago and has evolved into a fearsome enclosed street circuit where over the years the likes of Schumacher, Senna and Mika Hakkinen have done battle. Covering an expansive 6.2 Kilometres with many tight turns and with parts of the track only 7ft wide, expect contacts, daring “blink first” moments and an amazing race. Craft Bamboo racing have been working hard and its time for the team to shine in Macau 2016.
“I’m super excited to have the opportunity to race again at Macau. The circuit itself is the most challenging circuit I have ever driven and with the added bonus of a world title up for grabs, it doesn’t get much better than this. We’ve worked hard as a team and Porsche have been a great partner in helping us prepare for a chance to race the best in the world. Last year I walked away from Macau feeling bitter as I was taken out on the first lap of the main race, but in qualifying and race 1 I was able to get to grips with the ultra high speed narrow street circuit setting. I’ve been working hard on preparation behind the scenes with the team to build on last years experience, and this time I’m ready to fight it out at the front.”
Richard Lyons has renewed his ties with Audi Team Hitotsuyama Racing for the 2017 GT300 SuperGT Championship. As we march on towards a new motor racing season, Lyons will again be looking to drive the team even higher up the order. After constant year in year out improvement, Lyons and Hitotsuyama grabbed a 3rd place finish in the 2016 championship rankings, a just reward for all the hard work all season. 2017 looks sure to deliver even more action than ever before.
“It is fantastic news for me and a great honour to be able to extend my relationship with Audi Team Hitotsuyama, and compete in Japan for my 17th Season!!
After a massively successful 2016 in which we achieved and surpassed many goals, (The teams first race win, two front row starts and 3rd in the championship!) we feel we are in a great position for a winning campaign charge in 2017. For the past two seasons we have made great progress, our relationship with Blancpains multi championship winning team “WRT”, has helped lead us to this position, but not of course without the backing and great support of our sponsors. Dunlop will join us again into what will become our 2nd year of partnership. At the start of the 2016 season we were somewhat conservative, we needed to develop the tire for our Audi R8 LMS, but towards the middle of the season we were able to show our strength. This time though, with a strong testing programme before the 2017 season, we will be starting out the season on the front foot.
A big change for this season will be my team mate. After sharing great success together Tomonobu Fujii will now be my competition, and taking over his seat, I welcome a former racing partner Masataka Yanagida into the Hitotsuyama family. I’ve known Ma (Masataka) from my early days at Nismo in GT500. He raced with one of my greatest friends, Michael Krumm, in the #22 350Z in 2005. From that point onwards he went onto become a multiple champion in GT500 and GT300 and with that he brings phenomenal experience and success, plus he’s one of the nicest guys I know.
With all these ingredients in the mix, I’m super excited with our prospects ahead of the 2017 season and I can’t wait to get started!".
Okayama International Circuit
Beginning as is always traditional with the remote mountain setting of the Okayama International Circuit. This circuit has been favourable to the R8 in the past and means that straight out of the blocks Richard and new team mate Masataka Yanagida have every opportunity to start the season as they mean to go on.
“Finally! The first race of the season is upon us! I’m really pumped to get back at it again after being on such a high from winning in the last few races of 2016 and finishing 3rd in the SuperGT Championship. Last seasons placing has really motivated Audi Team Hitotsuyama and we’re ready to start the season on a high.
There have been a few changes in the team over the winter period, the main change being that I now have a new team mate, Masataka Yanagida who has 4 Super GT titles to his name. We have been working really well together in preseason testing and I expect him to be able to support us on reaching our goal of being champions! Another major change is our engineer, Pierre Arnaud. Pierre will still oversee things from Europe and join us for Suzkuka 1000km but he has been replaced by Miguel Galvez, who was actually my engineer when I competed for AF Corse in Europe in 2014. Miguel just recently joined WRT so it seemed the perfect fit when we realised Pierre was unavailable, so far we’ve all really gelled and the team looks in great shape.
Our Audi R8 LMS is still fitted with Dunlops so we have been able to build on last years experience and hopefully this gives us a stronger starting position than last season. I feel Okayama is a great circuit for the Audi R8 LMS and I think as a team we’re ready to fight for a podium from very the get go.”
Okayama International Circuit
Race 1 Round Up
Richard Lyons had a problematic weekends racing at this years SuperGT opener in Okayama, Japan, battling weather, mechanical faults and over zealous track staff from the very get go. Lyons, looking to get both himself and the team off to a flying start had a great beginning to Saturdays free practice, topping the time sheets and proving the lethal pace that the R8 is famous for. Shortly after clocking P1 times, the run of bad luck that would see them lucky to make Sundays grid at all would soon begin - starting with engine concerns on Saturday and ending on a puncture Sunday! In spite all the unfortunate events of the weekend, a P12 finish against all odds, Lyons and Yanagida-San still managed to earn hard fought points that even at this early stage could always prove vital come the last rounds.
"It turned out to be not the ideal start to our season, with a string of issues making it not possible to score the points we were working so hard for. Free practice on Saturday started of wet, and Yanagida-San started things off for us. Both his and the cars performance seemed to be great, keeping us in the top 6 times. I hopped in after 30 mins to get a feel for the conditions and on the first lap we clocked the second fastest time, then the next lap saw me jump to the top of the time sheets. Track conditions were getting better and close to using dry tires, so we got ahead of the game and went out to see our dry performance. After a few initial warm up laps the engine died on the back straight, leaving me stranded, but this problem lead only to an even more frustrating issue. When the tow truck came to rescue me, he was a little too excited on the loud pedal and ripped the front off of our very nice Audi R8 LMS. This lead to us not receiving our car back in the pits until after the session was over, meaning no dry running time for either Ma or I before qualifying. Audi Team Hitotsuyama were then into overdrive to find - A: the problem with the engine stopping and - B: replacing the damage the enthusiastic tow truck driver caused. A: was resolved after finding a loose connector and B: was only fixed due to the excellent team work of our mechanics.
We decided I would take on Q1 duties as I have the most experience with our car and we needed to be safe into Q2 (top 14). Pitting out I noticed a strange feeling from the balance, something felt off, like I had no grip. This meant I had no confidence in the car, but I pushed on ahead as I knew there was no time for any changes to the settings, and we scrapped through in P12. I knew something was badly amiss as I was 1 second slower than one month previous during testing. Ma jumped in for Qualifying 2 (Q2) and was met with the same feeling, but
he still managed to consolidate P12 for us providing a decent start position considering the drama in the morning. Although it was a salvage job in qualifying we weren’t happy with P12 as we knew we should be higher up. After a short chat with my engineer I was able to point them in the direction of the differential having an issue which turned out to be the problem.
Sunday Funday, or on this occasion not so much. Saturdays problems put firmly behind us and I went out to start the shortened 20 min warm up session before the race. Straightaway our Audi R8 LMS was back to its normal performance, I quickly went to the top of the time sheets and stayed there, Ma jumped in for a few laps to get a feel too but within his first lap he was speared off by a Amateur driver! This resulted in quite big damage to the right rear and time was not on our side. Again our mechanics were earning their money the hard way but they worked furiously and managed to pin it back together good enough to get us on the grid.
The race itself was a troubled start for many, it seemed like we were never going to get started, with Honda’s seemingly dropping like McLarens...finally we got going after a few safety cars. Unfortunately we were soon to find out that the rain of yesterday was a thing of the past and the hot conditions were not suited for our choice of Dunlops (We needed a track temp of between 15oC & 25oC but it was 32oC!). I struggled to keep position for the first 30 laps while track temperatures remained high but then the feeling started improving, this lead to us catching the cars in front again and lapping the same as the leading cars. I managed to complete my stint with probably the most laps of any driver and leading, albeit it, on non corrected pit stops. Ma finally had his chance, it hadn’t been the easiest of re- introductions to GT300, but he kept pushing and his lap times looked promising... but a late puncture meant he was left fighting to gather our team 3 incredibly hard earned team points that will hopefully translate later in the season.
Lessons learnt in many areas, eyes forward and we’ll not be so easy on the opposition in Round 2!”
Fuji International Speedway
This year at Fuji Speedway, Team Hitotsuyama and Richard Lyons will be looking to go one better than last years hotly contested race which saw them finish second in what was one of the most gripping SuperGT finishes of recent memory. Preparation is well underway on Lyons’ Audi R8 to get ready for one of the biggest races on the SuperGT calendar and to banish the cloud hanging over the team from round 1. With last rounds demons now behind them, the next task ahead is to battle this iconic Japanese circuit for 500 kilometres, with each lap weighing in at a 4.563Km. This race will is one of the longest and most gruelling on both car and driver, and with one of the longest straights in motorsport and big elevation changes throughout, Lyons and his R8 will be put to the test once again in front of 100’000 motorsport fans this coming Thursday.
“The “Golden Week” race at Fuji Speedway is always one of the biggest races of the year. It is also the second longest at 500km. Last time out at Fuji we almost secured the win on the last lap after chasing down the leader only to fall short by less than 0.1 seconds! This time, we’re hoping to put the messy start we have made to the season behind us and push for the podium. Yanagida San will definitely be on form this weekend so I feel good things abound for this Thursday’s race.”
Autopolis International Circuit
Team Hitotsuyama and Richard Lyons have gotten off to an arguably testing start to this years SuperGT championship, persistent mechanical gremlins and some outright bad luck has meant that they find themselves on the backfoot for this next round of GT300. After a year away from the racing calendar due to the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes, we see the return of SuperGT to one of Japans most unique tracks, Autopolis International Circuit, a track dominated by great elevation changes and sweeping corners along its 4.6km stretch. Lyons has been a winner on the top step here before at Autopolis and this Sunday will be looking to draw on his experiences to win his team some valuable points and get the season back on track.
“Fuji didn’t work out like we had planned, we disappointedly finished 14th. The weekend had started well seeing us inside the top 6 throughout practice and having quite a bit of time still left in our pocket. Fuji 500KM is a race that plays into strategy and this is perhaps what kept us from scoring better points. We had selected the harder compound in qualifying with the view that we could outpace our competitors in the hot first stint of the 500Km. Qualifying proved difficult, but we met our target of getting into the top 14. The race started off ok, but within the first few laps it was apparent that we were battling a braking problem, I tried to change the settings available to me from inside the car but nothing helped. From early on we knew we could not challenge for the top positions and had to choose a safe run home to the flag.
This weekend sees us return to Autopolis after a years absence… A lot of our competitors were lucky enough to test at this venue last month so it would seem we are a little on the back foot. However I feel our R8 should be well suited to the medium - high speed combination sweeps and turns. Seeing as it’s been a less than competitive start so far and that the B.O.P (“Balance Of Performance”, a system designed to encourage fairness and parity between GT cars) is favouring most of the other cars, we need to enter this weekend with a more realistic target. I think a top 8 finish this time out would be great, taking into consideration the above facts.
But…. This won’t stop me from aiming for the podium or the win, its the only reason why I drive!”
After a run of disappointing results during the opening rounds of this years SuperGT championship, Richard Lyons and Team Hitotsuyama entered summer testing with the aim of working out the kinks and to push their R8 to the limits. Testing with the R8 turned out well for the team, with vital information learned, essential data collected, and importantly more valuable seat time with the R8 machine for new team mate Masataka Yanagida.
Expected to be higher in the championship at this stage of the season, the experienced partnership of Lyons and Yanagida, both former GT500 champs, will look to delve deep into their bag of tricks to keep the team in the hunt and turn the season around.
The 3.7KM stretch of Sugo circuit itself is nestled in the Japanese countryside and drivers have to navigate not only the narrow circuit at highspeed, but also at this time of year, mother nature herself. Sugo is always full of suprises.
With all the boxes checked from testing this weekend should prove a fruitful one for Richard and team Hitotsuyama.
“The last month has been very low key on the racing front, but we have been quietly testing…...Well, actually, not so quietly as it happens! In true Super GT fashion thousands of Super GT fans have attended the testing sessions! We have had 2 days at Sugo sportsland and two days at Suzuka circuit. These two tracks are among my favourite circuits and are also very well suited to our Audi R8 LMS. Over the course of the 4 days of testing we were able to evaluate our Dunlop tire options and also give Yanagida San some extra mileage to become more comfortable with new tires and these circuits.
Overall we left very happy with our performances having comfortably run in the top 6 at each venue and Ma (Yanagida) also produce really fast long run performances. Our whole team is really excited about this weekends race at Sugo.
After a strong test performance here at Sugo, our first podium here last year, and Yanagidas victory last year in GT500, we are really feeling this is our chance to aim for the podium. Sugo normally throws up a surprise somewhere, whether its the weather conditions or something in the race itself. Its something of an old school circuit, not much run off and deep gravel traps means there is precious little room for error. The beginning of the lap starts off with a slow technical section finishing off with 3 fast corners, with the final corner being one of the best of any circuit, downhill, cambered into compression then uphill, hitting speeds of 200km/h. Awesome!
I’m ready to spray some champagne this weekend so I will get my head down and get the job done!
I also have some really exciting racing news coming in the next few days, stay tuned!"
Blancpain Endurance Seat at
Spa 24 Hours for Lyons
Next weekend will see Richard Lyons return to Europe this season with a confirmed drive for Belgium based team WRT at the Total 24 hours of Spa. With the duel benefits of having previously raced at Spa and being highly familiar with the teams chosen Audi platform, Richard was an easy pick for the seat. WRT have a rich winning history since their 2009 inception, Lyons will surely be a valuable asset in their bid to claim another Spa 24 hour title to add to their maiden 2014 victory. Their will be a lot to take in and challenges ahead for the Belfast native, the gruelling stints of a 24 hour race through the night being only one of them. Spa, set within the idilic Ardennes forests, is a track to test the very best drivers in the world. It’s famous high speed sections including Blanchimont and the Raidillon and Eau Rouge combination have caught out many a driver, this circuit will always deliver fantastic racing.
With the close working relationship between Lyons and WRT that has been fostered since 2015, Richard now has one of the best chances with WRT to claim a major racing scalp come race day.
“I’m super excited for this challenge to race in one of the biggest endurance events in the world, Spa 24hrs. Spa Francorchamps is a circuit I have had good success on in the past, although I haven’t regularly raced there, it is a track that suits my style.
It’s been a last minute deal, but after having built a relationship with WRT and my team I race with in Japan, Audi Team Hitotsuyama, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. WRT have been collaborating with our team in Super GT since 2015 and during that time we’ve been able to challenge for podiums, wins, and just missed out on Championship honours last season.
Now I get the chance to drive their car at their home race and effectively my home (Europe) race. I will partner with Jon Venter who I have competed with in GT Asia, Josh Caygill and Niki Mayr Melnhof in the #3 car.
I’m going there with a bit to learn and I know that patience is the name of the game in 24hr racing. Looking forward to see how we stack up when the chequered flag comes down!
Richard recaps on a manic
Last weekend Richard Lyons took the reigns in Car #3 at Spa-Francorchamps for the renowned Belgium team, WRT. Running a 24 hour race on his teams home circuit was always going to be an exciting and tough task to handle with an expectant crowd and a highly challenging circuit that consists of some of the best corners racing has to offer. After a tough Saturdays qualifying, the race certainly didn't get any easier. A fast, stable and consistent stint from Lyons coupled with earlier performances from his team mates pulled the team up into a higher class and overall position. Unfortunately, a racing incident with an errant Mercedes SLS during the small hours of the night put paid to hopes of completion in the 24 hour race, but much is to be taken from this experience. Spa has not seen the last of Lyons.
“It is such an amazing experience to take part in the worlds biggest GT race! The result wasn’t what we had in mind, but we gave it everything and we were looking good to challenge for a podium place.
The weekends action started early on Tuesday when I arrived at the circuit! From that point on it was full on, from meeting the 100+ team members, learning team procedures, to administrations checks. Wednesday was more or less a media day which was consisted of a few photo sessions and the Parade was the real highlight of the day. Our race car set off from Spa circuit along the road to Spa town, and along the route thousands of fans lined the roads capturing all the action. Upon arriving in the town centre the whole place was taken over by GT3 cars parked up around the casino area. We then had a few hours meeting the public and fans, followed by our drivers briefing in the theatre within the casino. From there we went back to the circuit for some Audi group pics on Eau Rouge.
Thursday was the first chance for me to get some laps and it really only was a handful of laps. With 4 drivers in our #3 R8 it meant I couldn’t get the laps I would
have hoped for. I was on the back foot from the start as I was the least experienced driver on this particular circuit by a big margin.
Before Qualifying I got around 10 laps to acclimatise and I was relatively confident that I could be on pace with the top 20 (they were separated by 0.4 Seconds!!) Qualifying came and I had my first chance on new tires. Straight away the grip was so much better, but with 62 cars on track it was impossible for me to find a clear lap. Unfortunately this left me with a disappointing crack at the whip, my team mate Jono then had a go and he didn’t get a clear run either, so we ended up starting down in 46th, albeit 1.5 secs away from pole.
Race day actually came round quite fast even though we had been at the circuit for 4 days already. Im not going to lie, I was quite anxious before the start of the race even though I wasn’t the starting driver. I think all drivers were much the same, just hoping they could get through the night and see the sunrise with out any trouble. Josh Caygill our AM driver put his hand up for the start and he did a great job staying out of trouble and maintaining our positon over his 2 hr stint. Jono Venter was next in and showed great speed and was as quick as the top 20 cars, also along the way managing to picking off a few! Unfortunately a misunderstanding with track limits cost us 2 drive through penalties and losing us around 1 and half laps...
It was finally my turn behind the wheel and we were just outside the top 40 at the start of my stint and around P10 in class. My goal was to bring it back in one piece and get to grips with racing wheel to wheel with so many GT3 cars. I have very limited experience in night time driving but I was in for the sunset to night stint, I can now tell you its dark out there in the forest! I managed quite well and within a few laps I was already picking up positions. Driving at night is a totally different game from the day, all your braking points are lost in the dark and the dust and dirt that gets kicked up seems impossible to see through. In to my second hour I had settled in and was able to keep pace with the leading cars while feeling more comfortable. By the end of my 2 hr stint we were inside the top 25 overall and top 6 in class. I learnt so much in that 2 hour stint and knew that I would be able to now push much more in my next stint at sunrise.
Niki was next up and he had been quick in night qualifying, I knew he would do a good job which he did and kept us firmly in the mix. Josh was in again for a stint then Jono was back in. Unfortunately things unravelled quickly, already the race was full of attrition with around 20 cars out at this stage. Jono and a Mercedes got tangled on the exit of the famous Blanchimont Corner, and that effectively ended our race.
To be honest I was gutted we didn’t get the chance to see the chequered flag but once you drive in this race you know its a big acheivement to get to the end. So much happens that if luck is not on your side, things will bite you no matter what you do.
I was proud of all the efforts of our team and everyone gave their all, right till the end.
Fuji International Speedway
Fuji International Speedway looms large as Lyons and Hitotsuyama prepare for round 5 of SuperGT.
This weekend Lyons continues his busy racing schedule with a trip to the iconic home of Japanese racing, the 4.5km long Toyota owned Fuji International Speedway. Set against the backdrop of Mt Fuji it is a circuit that Lyons knows well and has conquered, but in recent seasons has been a source of both frustration and joy.
Audi Team Hitotsuyama and Lyons will be back to the grindstone in an effort to regain their mojo and banish the recent run of unfortunate form that has seen them remain static in the championship, and still pointless. With the summer in full swing in Japan, it will be another hot race in the R8 cockpit with temperatures soaring and drivers fighting to keep hydrated. With attendances at Fuji Speedway topping 100’000 there could be no better circuit for Lyons and Team Hitotsuyama to end the cycle and bring home championship points.
“This race last year was one of our best, we just missed out on the win by 0.106 seconds. Although traditionally this is not our strongest circuit, we go there with confidence from last years performance. In our last race, round 4 at Sugo we were unlucky with a wheel coming off after our pitstop, but our pace was quick enough to have easily given us a podium finish if not the win.
This year our luck has been terrible for the team and myself, but I believe that we should never give up and keep focused. We have a great car and team so I’ll give it everything to get our first points on the board!”.
Suzuka 1000KM challenge up next for Lyons and Audi Team Hitotsuyama .
Summer is in full swing in Japan, and amongst all the festivals and sweltering heat will be the 46th running of the “International Suzuka 1000KM”. Lyons and co will be hard at work preparing their R8 for the battle ahead this weekend in an effort to build upon the momentum gained from their points scoring outing in round 5. Known for its high speeds and the fearsome 130R, Suzuka will be as always a challenge for for any team and driver, the famous circuit proving even more formidable in the humidity and roasting conditions. Looking to climb the championship table, a good result here would go some way in restoring Audi Team Hitotsuyama to the more business end of the table in readiness for the last two races of 2017. Whatever happens at Suzuka, Lyons and Yanagida will surely be in with a good shout of bringing home the goods.
“The Suzuka 1000KM is the biggest race of the year in Super GT, as well as being the longest! Traditionally we’ve performed well at Suzuka, and the Audi R8 LMS seems to make the drivers job a bit easier. The flow of Suzuka is one of my favourites, from turn 1 until the back straight you never stop turning, with most of those turns done in speeds exceeding 160kmh. The weather looks like typical Japanese summer weather and this is an extra stress on drivers and especially the tires. We could see track temperatures of over 50oC but I’m sure our Dunlop tires will be up to the job. We go into this race as maybe a dark horse as we haven’t put many points on the board this season, but with a low handicap weight and our previous experience, I’m quietly confident we can have a good weekend.”.
Twin Ring Motegi
The end of a tough season is in sight for Lyons and Team Hitotsuyama.
Winter is coming and SuperGT is drawing the curtains on its 2017 season this weekend at Motegi Twin Ring. Its been a tough and long season for Lyons and Team Hitotsuyama. Plagued by a lethal cocktail of mechanical problems, electrical issues and large doses of bad luck, Lyons has had precious little chance to score points and show the pace that made the team so competitive last season. Nestling into the small town of Motegi, this 4.8KM track is famous for its stop start style of layout and a striking lack of elevation, Lyons will be hoping that the cornering and breaking abilities of the R8 come to the forefront and that the team finishes on the high note they deserve after a tough 2017 campaign.
“This season draws to a close, and so far there’s been little to jump up and down about. However at the last round in Thailand, we were able to take our first pole position and I managed to dominate the first part of the race until Engine problems forced us into retirement.
Last year saw our team take its first ever SuperGT win at Motegi, so all things considered history might be on our side and we should be in the fight for a podium finish. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed that for once this year we get even a little bit of luck come race day!”.
Lyons to pilot the Audi Team Hitotsuyama R8 in 2018
2018 - A new dawn for Lyons and Audi Team Hitotsuyama.
With the SuperGT off season nearly at its end, it will soon be time for testing and shakedowns. The teams will head to the asphalt to knuckle down, put in the lap times and pour over the data to prepare for the season to come.
After a 2017 season full of disaster for the Belfast based driver and his Japanese SuperGT team, Lyons has pulled together a new and exciting look for the new term ahead.
Opting for a balance of experience, speed, youth and engineering talent, Lyons has crafted a potentially potent pairing with Ryuichiro Tomita. Having scored podiums and race wins in this class in previous years, Tomita-San is sure to settle in well with the famous GT300 outfit.
Renewing ties with the powerhouse Belgium Audi outfit WRT will in no doubt prove again to be invaluable in coaxing the most out of the V10 powered Audi R8, hopefully reuniting the team with top step podium finishes and a successful season in 2018.
Lyons heads into new waters with an eye to the future and well placed optimism.
“It’s fantastic to announce that once again I will join Audi Team Hitotsuyama for another season in SuperGT. We have a great working relationship and this is why we continue to race together year upon year. Last year shall we say was… “character building” after the highs and successes of 2016.
2017 however…..didn’t go at all to plan, but we feel we have identified a lot of the issues we faced and now have a much more positive look for the 2018 season.
This year I will partner up with Ryuichiro Tomita, he already has great experience in Super GT300, and I know he will be extremely fast and up there on the timing sheets. Im really excited to work closely with him. Another fresh face to our team will be our 3rd driver and also our new development driver, Takuro Shinohara. Takuro has experience brought from Formula 4 in Japan and will bring a youthful side to our team. I think with both these new additions to our side it will bring a young, fun and challenging atmosphere, and we’re all excited to get the season started.
Both Dunlop and WRT will continue to support us with tire and technical support. Also I will be back with race engineer Pierre Arnaud who will help guide us to a great 2018.
Testing begins in March and the new season will also see a shake up of the calander….
Looking forward to seeing the Super GT family/fans next month!”