Richard Lyons will become the third driver to represent Team Ireland in an A1 Grand Prix race when he makes his debut for the squad at this weekend's event at Sentul in Indonesia.

The 27-year old former Formula Nippon champion will be supported by regular test and reserve driver John O'Hara as well as the man who has represented Ireland in the rounds so far this season, Michael Devaney. Both will be on hand to help sort the set-up and performance of the car as Ireland attempts to kick-start its season.

"Richard's agreement to join us for the race in Indonesia is important as it will give the team a real opportunity to improve its competitiveness," team owner Mark Kershaw said, "Under this year's new rules, we have been forced to split practice sessions between drivers, while some of our rivals - including the series-leading German team - have run one driver in all sessions. By putting Richard in the car this weekend, he can compete in all the sessions, and he brings with him enormous experience.

"Since we can only enter one car in A1GP, it's been a tough decision to take, especially given the enormous effort that John and Michael have put in this season, but their reaction has been fantastic - entirely supportive and professional. The whole team understands this is about giving Ireland's A1GP team the best chance to progress.

"The decision to put Richard in the car has been made because we wanted to find an experienced driver who has raced and won at this level of motorsport and yet can qualify for all the practice sessions, including Friday's rookie session. Some observers have taken this as a vote of no confidence in our existing drivers - but that is simply wrong. We have to find solutions and the drivers understand that we have suffered compared to some of our rivals in having to split the sessions between them. That wouldn't be a problem if the car was competitive, but it is not, so we have to find a cure."

Sentul will not be Lyons' first visit to an A1GP event with the Irish squad, as he advised both O'Hara and Devaney and their engineer during the last event in Malaysia, a track on which he has excelled in recent years. Now, however, the boot will be on the other foot, with O'Hara's Asian F3 experience of Sentul providing valuable pointers for the newcomer.

"The opportunity to race in Sentul was unexpected, but the strategy of being able to run an experienced driver in all the sessions should help us make progress against the opposition and I'm going to be giving it one hundred per cent effort to help the team compete to win," Lyons admitted.

"This is an extremely good opportunity that I will not be taking lightly and will do my very best to deliver, not just for me, but especially the team, as everyone has clearly been working hard this season."

 

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