Kiwi endurance driver Jono Lester has been named in the PETRONAS Syntium Team’s line up for the 2013 12-hour Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER) at Sepang International Circuit, paired with Mercedes-Benz AMG Brand Ambassador Bernd Schneider and regular Super Taikyu team mate Dominic Ang.
Driving the team’s Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1, the trio will seek PETRONAS Syntium Team’s third consecutive win at their home event against a world-class field of 15 GT3 cars.
23-year old Lester considers the opportunity as “the biggest in my career to date” and is excited about the opportunity to race alongside a driver of such caliber as Schneider, who led first raced with the PETRONAS Syntium Team in 2011.
The 49-year old German has a golden resume that includes no less than five DTM titles, 32 Formula One Grands Prix with Zakspeed and Arrows, and an unprecedented unbeaten record of wins so far in 2013 winning the Bathurst 12 Hour and all three 24-hour events at Dubai, Nuburgring and Spa-Francorchamps.
“Bernd intimately developed the SLS AMG GT3 from the ground up with Mercedes-Benz AMG, and his knowledge of the car and obvious skills are proven in his results this year alone,” an excited Lester said.
“I’m in awe of his achievements in motor racing and it’s an honour for both Dominic [Ang] and I to be able to challenge for the MMER win with him, and soak up as much of his knowledge and experience we can in the process.”
Held in the home country for title sponsor PETRONAS, the MMER hold lots of significance for defending champion PETRONAS Syntium Team, who made the debut of the highly sought-after Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in the region in 2011 and successfully inked the books of history by clinching the overall victory of the MMER, along with third place as well. The team first won MMER in 2009 with the BMW Z4M
This marked the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3’s first ever victory in long-distance endurance racing worldwide and PETRONAS Syntium Team was rewarded for its achievement with the “Best Racing Performance” award at the AMG Customer Sports Season Finale.
The 2013 MMER race has adopted the unusual approach of a midnight race start time on Saturday night, allowing for teams and their machines to make the most of the cooler evening temperatures with daytime temperatures regularly topping a stifling 40 degrees at 100% humidity.
“Racing night to day is a new concept for me and at least half the race will be in darkness, which will be a new challenge. I know from visiting Sepang that the temperatures are suffocating during the day so the format will certainly help the drivers, crew and cars last the distance.”
With Round Five of the 2013 Super Taikyu Series falling on the same weekend, Lester’s regular team mates Tatsuya Kataoka and Fariqe Hairuman will compete at the three-hour race at Okayama in Japan in the usual SLS AMG GT3 #28.
“My heart will be in two places over the weekend, for sure. We have a Championship to fight for in Japan and I know the boys will be motivated to turn our fortunes around after two heartbreaking runs for the #28 at Motegi and Fuji.”
The 12-hour MMER race on the 5.543km Sepang circuit begins at midnight on Saturday, August 31 and ends at noon on Sunday, September 1.
In 2012, at the annual AMG Customer Sports Season Finale held at AMG’s headquarters in Affalterbach, the PETRONAS Syntium Team was awarded the coveted ‘CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE’ for its achievement in the Super Taikyu Series (of a five-time consecutive title) with their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars #1 and #28 coming in overall first and second respectively.
Lester is supported throughout the 2013 season by key partners including Vortex Racewear, Lero Global, R Redpath Limited, Opti-Flex, Fastway Couriers, Robbie Bird Wines, CRC MotorNews.co.nz, Mako Networks, iSign it, Sony New Zealand, Sony Xplod, ThrillPledge and Webdesign.
More details about Jono and his season can be found at www.jonolester.com, or by following ‘Jono Lester’ on Facebook or @jonolester on Twitter. Join the conversation using the hashtag #flyingkiwi on social media platforms.
Follow the action from your smartphone by downloading the free Jono Lester app, simply by visiting http://jonolester.appguppy.com from your iPhone or Android device.