Thursday, April 9, 2015

Q&A: Interview with Richard Lyons - Audi Team Hitotsuyama driver in Super GT

By Tarek Ramchani

Richard Lyons is one of the fastest and most popular drivers in the Japanese Super GT. The British driver is racing with Audi and team Hitotsuyama Racing since 2012.

For this year's competition he is sharing an Audi R8 LMS ultra with Tomonobu Fujii. The two drivers performed well at the Okayama opener taking a great podium within a demanding GT300 class.

We were pleased to have an interview with Richard Lyons. A very interesting Q/A about his 2015 season in Super GT with Audi Team Hitotsuyama and more.

You can follow Richard Lyons news at his official website, on Facebook and Twitter.

The Super GT season started very well at Okayama with a fine podium, tell us more about that race.

Yes it got of to a great start but for sure not an easy race. The race itself came down to quite a bit of strategy as we knew that it wasn’t a clear choice which tires to start on. We have a choice of Dry, intermediate and wet tires. We choose the intermediate as the track was damp and rain wasn’t forecast for another 40-60 mins. It turned out this was the correct call as we were able to carve up the field to 2nd position before having to pit for tires and fuel on lap 44. Fujii san took over the duties continuing on a new set of Intermediate tires and was able to keep with the leaders. Unfortunately 20 mins before the end the rain came down hard again and ruin our chances of moving further up the podium but he hung on for a brilliant 3rd.

Since 2014 Hitotsuyama Racing has had more support from Audi Japan and Audi Sport customer racing, tell us more about that.

In 2014 Audi Japan have been strong supporters of Hitotsuyama Racing and this has continued into 2015. Audi Sport have always been great supporters of all teams that run their Audi R8 GT3 so it’s great to continue these partnerships.

You are sharing the #21 Audi R8 LMS ultra with Tomonobu Fujii, how is the work split between the two of you during race weekends?

generally the work load is fairly even with both drivers having input into the setting of the car and tire choices. Both Fujii San and I have a lot of experience in Super GT so we enjoy the fact that we trust each others opinions and can help push each other to better performances.

Many race fans who follow Super GT focus on GT500, how competitive is GT300?

I drove in GT500 from 2002 to 2011 and it is very competitive between the 3 major car Manufacturers in Japan. Obviously the GT500 cars are faster and this in itself is very interesting. However in the last few years GT300 has became much more supported by the big Manufacturers in Japan but also Audi amongst other European brands are now involved. This has now brought GT300 from an Amateur level GT class to almost fully Pro driver and team line ups. The racing has become maybe even more entertaining in GT300 compared to GT500.

This year Audi Team Hitotsuyama is joined by Audi Team Racing Tech, how good is it to have two R8 LMS ultra teams in Super GT?

The goal for Audi Sport and Audi Japan is to have as many cars in the championship as possible. Every extra car helps for different reasons to having more feedback for set up to choosing correct tires from our Tire supplier Yokohama and also most importantly it helps push each team and driver a little more.

W Racing Team (WRT) from Belgium is supporting Hitotsuyama Racing this year, tell us more about that.

WRT are the most accoladed team for Audi Sport customer Racing so it was an obvious choice to become involved with them. WRT also were very keen to broaden there experience as well as accept new challenges and enter into the asian racing scene. So far it’s been a perfect combination.

What are your targets for the 2015 season in Super GT?

The target is simple. To be Champion!

Could we see you in classic European races with Audi R8 LMS cars in the near future?

Yes it would be great to be involved in some of the big races in Europe although the first goal is to win Super GT

What is your favourite race track, and why?

Suzuka is my favourite track for many reasons. I won both the Super Formula (formula Nippon) and Super GT titles there. From a driving point of view it is ultra fast with many high speed flowing circuits that no matter how good you know is always tricky to find the limits.

Photo credit: Richard Lyons / Audi Media