Jono LesterJono Lester has taken his first victory of the season in the Super Taikyu Endurance Series at Suzuka, driving for the PETRONAS Syntium Team.

Behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, Lester adapted quickly back to the potent machine since his last outing at Sugo in May, topping the time sheets throughout testing and joining with team mate Tatsuya Kataoka in scoring two pole positions for the weekend’s two 60-minute races.

The opening race was abandoned at the 30 minute mark after a terrible accident at the end of Suzuka’s main straight claimed the life of a fellow competitor.

Points were still awarded for the race, and Lester was credited with 4th place after serving a drive through penalty for a jumped start. He explains:
“The penalty really hurt our chances of victory in race one. The BMW Z4 alongside me was very slow to get away and in being eager to latch onto my team mates I had edged ahead of him by the time we reached the start line.

“In the end, our thoughts were elsewhere with the tragedy that occurred in the accident. It left a sombre feel on the pit paddock from that point forward.”

Starting from a clean slate for race two, Lester led the field away and battled in close contention with team mate Nobuteru Taniguchi in Car #1 for the duration of the opening stint.

Pitting from the lead, a fast tyre and driver change gave Lester’s #28 machine a convincing lead as it rejoined, and Melvin Moh showed strong pace to lead the field home for a convincing and popular victory.

“It’s an amazing feeling to take my first win for the PETRONAS Syntium Team,” Lester said.

“So many factors have gone against us this season, and today was potentially no different. But we pulled together as a unit and really gave it our all to take this victory. Now we want to end the season on a high by doing the same at Autopolis in three weeks time!”

The final round of the 2012 Super Taikyu Endurance Series takes place at the Autopolis Circuit on November 10-11. Lester currently sits in second overall in the points standings.

Lester now returns to New Zealand for the Pukekohe 500, driving with John McIntyre Racing in the V8 SuperTourers on October 27-28.

Jono Lester is supported in the 2012 Super Taikyu Endurance Series by dwA Motorsports, Opti-Flex, R Redpath Limited, Trinity Media Group, CRC motornews.co.nz, Mako Networks, Vortex Racewear, iSign it, ThrillCapital, Sony New Zealand and Webdesign.

Photo by PETRONAS Syntium Team.