What a weekend and turn around for us at Fuji International Speedway. Friday couldn’t have gotten of to a better start being fastest in both dry and wet conditions. This left me feeling confident that the work myself and the Interush Craft Bamboo Racing team had done in the lead up was all very positive. This weekend also saw one of our other main sponsors W66.com coming with their VIP guests to support our car.
Qualifying was wet and we knew with the way the Michelin tires worked we would only get 1 attack lap where the tires provided their peak grip. I didn’t feel it was my best lap ever but it was enough to put our machine on pole by 0.5 seconds, which is light years in racing talk! Frank also put in a solid effort and potentially could have been higher up if 3 cars hadn’t of pitted out in front of him on his attack lap, but still, P6 was a big jump up on our last outing.
Race 1 went according to the best plans, with a wet track we knew it would be a case of tip toeing around as the track didn’t produce a whole lot of grip. I got a great start and also our other team car of Darryl O’young was able to make the jump to make it a Craft Bamboo 1-2 by the exit of turn 1. From there I was able to control the pace and eek out a 6+ second lead. Frank managed to hold pace but unfortunately hit some oil and spun out of the lead but managed to get it all back together to secure our first podium of the season.”
Race 2 was the opposite conditions, a dry track which we hadn’t seen much of over the 3 days. Frank took the start but got squeezed out at turn 1 but showed good diligence by getting back on track in P9 without any mishaps. He then settled into a good rhythm, something that hadn’t been easy until this weekend as we had been changing set-ups so much up to this point. In his final 3 laps before the driver change he proved to be one of the fastest cars on track and made the vital move to jump ahead of our sister car the #99 VLT machine.
However, with our success penalty from the previous race of +4 secs in pit stop time we fell behind again. Our driver change went according to plan and I exited the pits in P7 or P8, but from there I realised just how much of an improvement we had made to our set-up. I was able to consistently lap faster than all the other cars in front and pick them off one by one. On the start of the last lap I had closed in on a huge gap to close into a podium position. I could see the Bentley in front was struggling somewhat, I knew I had one crack at getting the position, I didn’t need an invitation and pounced to secure our 2nd podium of the weekend.
An unbelievable weekend for me, but I really have to thank our Craft Bamboo Racing team for their hard work and belief in me. I can’t wait to get to Shanghai!
About Richard Lyons:
Born In 1979 in Hillsbourgh Northern Ireland, Richard started on his racing career at an early age with Karting. After winning at every level of Karting from Cadet to Senior it was time to move up.
In 1996 Richard moved into the the junior ranks of Formula Junior Vauxhall in Britain. Winning the 1996 winter championship in his first season was a great result and the next three years Lyons rose the ranks.
1997 finishing third and winning the prestigious young driver of the year award. ’98 & ’99 proved to be even better years with Richard recording two consecutive second place championship finishes and also winning the young driver of the year for the second season in a row.
Although primarily Racing in Japan, Richard had brief periods between teams to compete in various other race series’ around the world. Racing for Ireland in the short lived international A-1 open wheeled series along side some of the best drivers from Indy Car and F-1 aswell as taking his skills down under to win in Australia in their V8 supercars championship, winning at the Gold Coast 600.bBut after a brief Hiatus in Japan, Richard Lyons returned as Team leader of a famous Racing house in GT300 here in Japan By the name of “Hitotsuyma Racing” a team well known for its racing history and with hopes of building a team and leaving his mark.