|Date of birth :||8 August 1979|
|Team :||Audi Team Hitotsuyama|
|Car No. :||21|
|Car :||Audi R8 LMS GT3|
Richard Lyons, originally from Ireland is no stranger to Japanese circuits.
In 2004, Lyons was a double winner of both Formula Nippon and the Super GT 500 class championships. He currently races in the GT 300 class in an Audi R8. He will once again race in the Suzuka 10 Hour race this season. In last season’s race, his team was 2nd among all Japanese finishers with an 8th finish overall.
What is his goal for this year’s race? We asked him about the 10 hour race, which is quite different than Super GT, and his ambitions for it.
I think it is great that it is now part of a world challenge race. And we have many teams and a lot of different drivers competing from all around the world. Suzuka is almost like a home circuit to me, so that is fantastic. I won both Formula Nippon and Super GT at that circuit, so it has great memories for me.
The event itself is so huge. You actually have all the Super GT fans coming to follow and watch us in GT3. There are some other GT3 drivers that will be coming along this time like Satoshi Motoyama. So, it’s going to be really interesting to see some of their faces. But for us, last year we were really competitive and we’re obviously able to fight sort of in the top 10. The lap times are so close between all the competitors, so it is very difficult to make up ground. So, it comes down to a little bit of strategy. It is really enjoyable, everybody is pushing the maximum every single lap. But I would say for us, Super GT drivers, the tires are a little difficult for us because they are completely different. There is a huge difference in lap times. Certainly, for the first one or two days, the Super GT drivers take a little longer to adjust to this difference. But this is part of it. We have a good advantage because we know the circuit, and I know my team, I know my teammates. I am very confident we can certainly fight for the podium and definitely top 6.
I didn’t know that we were 2nd as a Japanese team, I didn’t look at that. So that is interesting. Not really, but we’ve got a new car this year. That’s the biggest thing. I think the new Audi is much more competitive and much more suited to the Pirelli tires. From what I understand from Europe, we can be more competitive and super strong. Our driving line-up is unchanged, so that means we are stronger together, already working together this year with Alessio (Picariello), me and Tomita-san (Ryuichiro Tomita). We’ve been really strong. As a partnership, team, car, we should be stronger.
Yes, basically Audi Sport customer racing will support us with all the details and information that we need. Anything that they find, they will help us with it. We’ve all seen the data as a factory car, we worked together last year as a group. It’s like we’re the sister satellite team to the set of factory cars.
I think "no mistakes". No mistakes and making sure in the last hour you’re in the top 6. It’s like any endurance race, you need to make sure you’re in the top 6 and on the lead lap and you have a strong chance to fight.
No, not really. Everyone is sort of on the same strategy. Of course, the red flags can make a difference and your drivers within stints. But really, there isn’t much difference between our drivers. The Audi Sport customer racing guys can help us with strategy, so we don’t have to do too much.
Big prize money (laugh). Just competing against the drivers from all over the world. If you beat them, you’re one of the best guys in the world. I look forward to that.
To win. I think we can. I think our driver line-up is just as good as any there is. Yeah, there is no reason why we can’t win.
It’s fantastic to have fans and drivers from all over the world. The race has some great heritage and some great history, with many different winners in the past. But I hope we can win the race for our Audi fans from around the world. It would be nice to do it as a Japanese team.