Lyons Takes Fontana Pole In Last Moment of JGTC Qualifying
FONTANA, Calif. (Dec. 18, 2004) -- England's Richard Lyons continued his dominance of the inaugural appearance of the All-Japan GT Championship (JGTC) on North American soil, taking the overall and GT500 class pole position for this evening's GT Live 200-mile event at California Speedway. Morio Nitta, of Japan, captured the GT300 class pole, and will start 11th overall.
Driving the No. 1 Xanavi/NISMO Nissan 350Z, Lyons jumped from fifth to second with just moments remaining in the 10 minute final qualifying session, and then ripped off a lap of 1:23.124 (99.610 mph) as he took the checkered flag to steal the pole position away from Frenchman Benoit Treyuler by 0.165-second.
"The track is very different from what we're used to because there's many cones and not real chicanes," Lyons, who was 2004 series co-champion with teammate Satoshi Motoyama, said of his first-career JGTC pole. "A lot of people started to cut the corners [defined by the cones]. It's a challenge, and I'm enjoying it.
"I knew that I didn't want to push too hard at the start; I just wanted to keep building up," Lyons added of his run in the initial 30-minute combined GT500/GT300 session. "Coming into these braking points is quite difficult, so each lap I was building up to the last lap--to do the maximum."
Lyons made it a clean sweep thus far for the weekend, as he paced both practice sessions on Friday as well.
Treyuler will start second in his No. 12 Calsonic/Impul Nissan 350Z with teammate Yuji Ide after sitting on top of the charts until the last moments with a lap of 1:23.289 (99.412 mph). The No. 37 Dynacity/Tom's Toyota Supra V8 of James Courtney and Tatsuya Kataoka, the No. 18 Takata/Dome Honda NSX of Ryo Michigami and Sabastien Philippe and the No. 22 Motul/Pitwork Nissan 350Z of Masami Kageyama and Michael Krumm completed the top five.
Driving the No. 43 ARTA Garaiya, Nitta turned a fastest time of 1:29.190 (92.835 mph) to earn the pole position in GT300 with teammate Shinichi Takagi. The 2004 Championship-winning No. 16 M-Tec Honda NSX of Tetsuya Aoki, Nobuteru Taniguchi and Manabu Orido will start second in class with a time of 1:29.956 (92.045 mph).
In all, 23 cars turned times in qualification for this evening's 87-lap, 200.1-mile contest.
-scca pro racing-