Points and potential. A tale of two campaigns so far.
It's been a while folks and I thought I would bring you up to speed on some history and also give you an almost quarterly or rather thirdly (does that exist?!) report on recent results.
Things have not gone the way I would have hoped… With signing for 2 awesome teams I had hoped that at this stage of the season I would be talking about how I would be extending my lead in each of the championships.
However, back to the real world and some history. Things have never been gifted to me in my career no matter what it seems like from the outside, I didn't arrive in this position by accidents and good luck. It's been a long road, take for example why i’m still with Audi team Hitotsuyama.
I was introduced, through a mutual friend in 2012 when Hitotsuyama-San needed another driver for the 1000km race at Suzuka (a very famous and established race for almost 50 years now). Hitotsuyama Racing and I had a pretty epic debut, qualifying a subdued 17th and coming very close to winning! Since then it’s been an uphill struggle but we have believed and trusted in each other and now have formed one of the best SuperGT GT300 teams in Japan. We haven’t quite yet realised the results we have shown potential for but we have along the way created some of the best partnerships in the racing world.
Last year we joined forces with Audi japan helping each other and working together to establish ourselves in the top leagues of Japanese Motorsport. In our debut season together we secured a our first podium finish at Sugo (pictured below) and many other points placings.
On the back of this we formed another historic partnership that would have our newly formed Audi Team Hitotsuyama join and collaborate with W Racing Team, the multiple European Championship winning team from Belgium. Since the formation of this all new partnership we have been ultra competitive bringing home a podium in Round 1 at Okayama already this year (pictured below).Unfortunately we’ve had our challenges since then and haven’t secured the points on offer.
With WRT, we have found the extra speed needed to make us competitive but with the extra stress that is accompanied by the Super GT grippy tires and hot conditions we have had to dig deeper. Rounds 2 & 3 may have left us with a sparse return of points for our effort and potential, but even though many would walk away disappointed, we have left with data that will help us become stronger for the races to come.The next round at Fuji doesn't promise to be our best but we are quietly confident another podium is not far away in the next round or two :-) GT Asia Rounds 1,2,3 and 4
GT Asia is a new Championship for me but already I have had a good measure of success. The interesting side to this story is it might not have happened if I didn't take the decision to drive with Hitotsuyama Racing in 2012 and meet a certain Mr Frank Yu!
Frank Yu is an inspiration to many in Asian motorsport, a man with a dream and a goal and now owner of one of if not the best Motorsports team in all of Asia! We met at the Autopolis circuit in Japan in 2012 both competing for Hitotsuyama Racing in the SuperGT Championship and it was instantly apparent that we wanted the same things from the sport.
It took a while for us to get the opportunity to join forces in the same car but once we did we haven't looked back. We have enjoyed many poles, wins, podiums and fastest laps together and Its only this year that have we managed to make a permanent deal to launch an attack on the GT Asia Championship together.
We had hoped to have some pre-season testing like many of the other teams but timing didn't allow for this so we entered the opening two rounds in South Korea on the back foot. For me I had never been to South Korea so this was going to be a case of “in at the deep end” for rounds 1&2.
This years GT Asia has seen a rise in the competition level with Ferrari and Bentley bringing in their factory driver line-ups and as a non factory privateer team it gives us a chance to show what we can do. From the first practice session it was obvious that I was feeling at home with the Aston Martin Vantage GT3, making some of the fastest times all the way through practice to Qualifying. Things didn't go according to plan throughout the weekend leaving us with only a 2nd and 9th position from what seemed like an achievable podium finish in each race.
Rd’s 3 & 4 of GT Asia brought the championship to Japan and to a circuit I know well, Okayama International Circuit. We proved competitive throughout the weekends practice and qualifying which landed us in P2 and P7 for the respective rounds.
These two races nobody could ever have predicted…. Race 1 coming from P2 off the start line we ended up P12 over the finish line which included 2 trips onto the green stuff and into track side walls! Race 2 was possibly one of the most of exciting races in GT Asia and my career…. A slow start to the proceedings quickly turned into a thrilling end.
Frank showed his strengths and once again proving that qualifying has got nothing to do with the race and quickly asserted himself into P6 and going on to make an inspired “Hamilton decision” (Silverstone 2015 pit in) and pitting in to give us a chance to fight for Victory!
From the very start our Interush racing crew showed 100% pure team work and I was able to move from 6th to 2nd and by the last lap I was challenging for the win……..but
It wasn't to be but this is how we leave my season ‘thirdly’ report blog!
Cant wait to get back to my season mid term as it promises to be mega! Richard Lyons. Photos: Benny Luey
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