Kiwi Jono Lester helped his Vattana Motorsport team into the lead of the Thailand Super Series points chase with another victory on the streets of Bangsaen over the weekend, at the annual Bangsaen Grand Prix street race.
On his first visit to the bumpy, narrow Bangsaen circuit, 28-year old Lester scored an emphatic pole position and a new outright lap record in qualifying, but the weekend’s opening race didn’t go the way of he and Japanese co-driver Akihiro Asai.
Lester built a sizeable lead over the chasing pack in the early laps, before a safety car compressed the field and Lester was left with seven minutes of his opening stint to build as much of a lead as possible before the pit stop sequence.
In two laps, Lester had gapped the Ferrari of Carlo van Dam by almost four seconds, but a brush with the guard rail into the tight turn 6 hairpin caught the edge of the front splitter on his Lamborghini Gallardo FL2, which broke the bumper mounts and deteriorated as the race went on.
Eventually, Asai was forced to consolidate for fourth position, taking valuable point for the title chase.
Off pole again for Sunday’s second 60-minute race, Asai controlled the field early before handing over to Lester, who chased down and passed the leader before pulling a 17-second gap in the closing stages, eventually crossing the line 11-seconds ahead of the nearest rival after a late accident left debris and damaged cars strewn across the track in the final sector.
“I love street circuits and Bangsaen bought a new level of challenge. We were fast from the outset, but as Saturday proved mistakes are still easily made with the slightest lapse of judgement,” Lester said.
“I’m so pleased we were able to convert on Sunday, and take the championship lead. The Vattana team have been going from strength to strength throughout the season and if we continue this momentum I think we are in with a good shot of the title.”
With the AAS Bentley Continental GT3 finishing in fifth, Vattana Motorsport’s victory was enough to overhaul the rival team into the lead of the Championship with just one round remaining at Buriram at the end of October.
Jono Lester is managed by WeAreTENZING and supported in 2018 by Racing Element, Redpaths, Cuesko, Gulf Oil New Zealand, Vortex Racewear, CRC New Zealand, SOMA Neuro Performance, SMP Technology and iSign It. As an Ambassador for SPCA New Zealand, Lester uses his motorsport careers as a fundraising and awareness platform for the animal welfare charity.