Kiwi endurance driver Jono Lester is eagerly anticipating the challenge of a seven hour endurance race at Fuji Speedway this weekend, with the Super Taikyu Series shifting up a gear with the longest duration event on its 2013 calendar.
Driving the #28 PETRONAS Syntium Team Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, Lester and co-drivers Tatsuya Kataoka (JAP) and Fariqe Hairuman (MAL) are now joint-leaders in the Championship with their team mates in the sister #1 car.
This comes after relinquishing their advantage with late-race drama at the recent Motegi round where Lester – at the wheel and leading by 30-seconds with just four minutes of the five hour race remaining – suffered a brake issue which sent him off the circuit at 245km/h.
The 23-year old, Takapuna based driver recovered to finish in second position.
With a short turnaround between events, Lester said there is little time to dwell on the disappointment:
“The incident at Motegi turned out to be the best of a potentially very bad situation,” he commented.
“When you weigh up the ‘what ifs’, we were very lucky to escape the scary off-track excursion with valuable points, and no damage to either the car or myself. We lost a few points, but the big picture still sees our Championship charge on the right course.”
As the scene of Lester’s first ever laps behind the wheel of the SLS AMG GT3 in early 2012, Lester looks forward to returning to ‘where it all began’ to take on his GT3-class rivals this weekend.
“Fuji is a brilliant circuit steeped in motor racing history. The weather always plays its part and it’s quite hard on brakes – much like Motegi – however there’s definitely more elements of high speed flow that will suit the SLS AMG GT3 nicely. I feel that will bring us back in line with our rivals, particularly Nissan and Porsche, on raw pace alone.”
Fuji Speedway stands in the foothills of Mount Fuji in the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan, and is famous for playing host to the epic finale in the 1976 F1 World Championship climax between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, where the popular Englishman claimed his first and only World Title.
The weekend format for Round Four of the Super Taikyu Series includes three Official Practice sessions on Friday, three-part qualifying on Saturday, before Sunday’s seven hour race.
Lester is supported throughout the 2013 season by key partners including Vortex Racewear, Purechoice New Zealand, 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. Search the hashtag #flyingkiwi for related social media content online.
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