Jono LesterJono Lester has finished in second place in his Super Taikyu debut with the PETRONAS Syntium Team, in the 4 Hours of Fuji Speedway over the weekend.

Driving the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 paired with Tatsuya Kataoka (Japan) and Toyota Racing Series team mate Melvin Moh (Malaysia), Lester entered qualifying having driven the car in dry, damp and extreme wet conditions during pre-event testing.

Setting the quickest lap time during his 15-minute qualifying session, Lester set a new benchmark for FIA GT3-spec cars with a new course record, eclipsing the time set by the Audi’s R8 LMS GT3 in 2011.

Starting in second position behind the sister PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 #1 by way of aggregate qualifying times across each car’s driver line up, Lester’s #28 entry led the race in the early stages at the hands of Kataoka.

Lester took the wheel for the third and final stint, and fought hard to reduce the deficit, eventually crossing the line in second position overall.

A 1-2 finish for the PETRONAS Syntium Team was a perfect start to the season for the four-time champions, and Lester was pleased with his debut:

“It’s been an exciting debut weekend in Japan and I’ve learnt a great deal,” Lester said.

“My endurance racing experience is limited so I was learning ‘on the go’ during my stint and the varied speeds of cars across the six competing classes was a real challenge.”

Lester believes the driver line up in car #28 has the potential to challenge for overall victory at the second round of the championship, to be held at Motegi on April 28-29.

“I’m happy with my lap pace and comfortable in the SLS now. To set a new course record at Fuji was quite surprising but a very nice bonus.

“We have the pace to win. Tatsuya and Melvin drove so well during the race, it was very exciting to watch it unfold and the pair of PETRONAS Syntium Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars very closely matched as a package.”

PETRONAS Syntium Team founder and principal David Wong comments, “We have thrown Jono to the deepest end of the pool and he survived well. We are pleased with his progress and how he is learning quickly and contributing to the great 1-2 victory for the team which also significantly marks the first winfor the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in Japan.”

Lester is supported in the 2012 Super Taikyu Endurance Series by PETRONAS Syntium, Opti-Flex, R Redpath Limited, Trinity Media Group, Mako Networks, Vortex Racewear and ThrillCapital.

Photo by PETRONAS Syntium Team.