SEPTEMBER 3, 2004
Controversy in Japan
Richard Lyons hopes to get into Formula 1 next year but his hopes of winning the Formula Nippon series last weekend took a knock when he was punted out of the race at Mine on the final lap after dominating the event. The initial leader of the race was pole man Benoit Treluyer (Mobilecast Team Impul) with fast-starting Juichi Wakisaka (Team LeMans) up to second from fifth on the grid. Lyons was third in his DoCoMo Dandelion team entry. Lyons then closed in on Wakisaka. After Treluyer and Wakisaka pitted Lyons went into the lead and in the final laps Treluyer closed in on Lyons and the two fought for the lead. On the final lap Treluyer tried a dive down the inside at the hairpin and launched Lyons's car into a roll, which ended up in the sandtrap. Treluyer managed to escape unharmed and won the race with Wakisaka second but after the race the Dandelion team protested, arguing that Treluyer's driving had been unsafe. It was decided that Treluyer would be docked a lap for his involvement in the incident and so victory went to Wakisaka, although the Impul team has appealed the ruling and the results remain provisional. Lyons, who was on his way to his fifth win in seven races, gains nothing from this and was furious about what had happened.
"It was a textbook race up until then," said Lyons afterwards. "I'm fuming about the incident. It was a moral victory but unfortunately they don't give points for those. We did everything right and to put not to fine a point on it, I'm gutted."
The only good news was that Lyons's closest championship rivals all failed to score.
The next round of the series will be at Sepang in Malaysia on September 19.
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