Lyons wins Nippon title

Richard Lyons has won the prestigious Japanese Formula Nippon Championship after a tense series showdown in Suzuka on Sunday - and heartbreaking drama in the pits that cost him the race victory. His eventual third placed finish was enough to give him the crown, though

Lyons wins Nippon title

The Briton had grabbed a brilliant pole position on Saturday and, after making a good start, he led for the first 19 laps of the race to put himself on course for the victory he needed to grab the title.

But his mandatory pit-stop went wrong with a slow wheel change and the added penalty of him getting baulked by a slower rival. This double blow cost him valuable time - handing the lead to rival Benoit Treluyer who was not in the hunt for overall title honours. Treluyer duly went on to win the race.

Lyons resumed in second place but was put under massive pressure from championship rival Yuji Ide. Lyons coped brilliantly, however, and in the closing stages, well aware that main rival Andre Lotterer was outside the points, he decided to let Ide through for second place - knowing that the championship would be his.

"I made a good start and led through the first corner," said Lyons. "The race went to plan up to my the pit stop which didn't work out. After that it was a case of trying to look after my tyres and staying out of trouble. I was right on Ide's tail at the finish in case there was any late place swapping but all in all it worked out perfectly."

After taking third, with Lotterer down in seventh, Lyons tied in the points table with his PIAA Nakajima rival - but won it on the tightest of countbacks. The pair had exactly the same number of results - with two wins, one second place, one third place and one fourth place each - but Lyons was given the nod because he finished ahead of Lotterer in the final round.

"I'm absolutely delighted," said Lyons. "It's a tremendously satisfying feeling to have brought DoCoMo Dandelion their first title. It's been a lot of hard work this year and I'd just like to thank everyone at the team for all their efforts."

Lyons is hoping to follow in the footsteps of former Formula Nippon champions Ralf Schumacher, Pedro de la Rosa and Ralph Firman in using the title success as a springboard to Formula 1.

"Formula Nippon has got to be the best preparation for F1 that there is and I'm very proud to be following in the footsteps of the likes of Ralf Schumacher in winning this title. It was a hectic weekend and I can take some satisfaction in knowing that I had what it took when the chips were down."

Having secured the Formula Nippon title, Lyons now focuses on the Japanese GT Championship which he leads with Satoshi Motoyama heading to the final round back at Suzuka in a fortnight's time.

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