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Category: Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race

Jono LesterKiwi endurance driver Jono Lester has been unable to translate a front row start into victory in the 2013 12-hour Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER) at Sepang International Circuit, retiring from the race after nine hours.

Driving the PETRONAS Syntium Team SLS AMG GT3 #1, Lester was paired for the race with Mercedes-Benz AMG Brand Ambassador Bernd Schneider and regular Super Taikyu team mate Dominic Ang.

The trio completed a PST front row lockout in qualifying behind the all-German line up of Thomas Jaeger, Luca Ludwig and Lucas Wolf in #28, and led the field away at the stroke of midnight to battle through the early hours of the race and sit in third position after four hours.

Suddenly and in the space of just five laps, both PST machines were in trouble with the #28 car retiring with an engine failure, and Lester’s #1 pitting with Schneider at the wheel with a broken fan belt.

Losing 28 laps repairing the car, Lester rejoined the field in 21st place and brought the car up to 12th in his second stint, clawing back two laps on the race leading AF Corse Ferrari in the process.

Ang and Schneider further improved the position to ninth overall, before the car was retired after nine hours with an expired engine, succumbing to internal damage from the earlier fan belt incident.

Lester remained upbeat despite the disappointment of the result:

“The spirit of the PETRONAS Syntium Team shone through today and I’m proud of what the team achieved in times of such adversity,” he said.

“We had many challenges thrown at us but never gave up. We knew after the fan belt issue that we were out of contention, but with the pressure off we did our best to put on a show for the local fans with some exciting battles and fast pace in the resurgent #1 machine.”

“It would have been a close fought battle for the win, regardless. Our team mates (#28) and the Ferraris were very fast and we expected a race-long battle with them. Today wasn’t our day but we will be back even stronger in 2014.”

Elsewhere in Japan, Lester’s regular Super Taikyu SLS AMG GT3 #28 took victory in the Okayama 3 Hour Super Taikyu Endurance race, after qualifying in second position and battling through horrible weather conditions to take a hard fought victory from Nissan and the sister SLS AMG GT3 #1.

“It certainly eases the pain of the race today to know that Fariqe [Hairuman] and TK [Tatsuya Kataoka] had such a strong result in Japan. On corrected score [taking into account the ‘drop your worst round’ points format] we are now back in the lead of the Championship, which makes the prospect of Suzuka all the more exciting!”

Lester’s next outing is the penultimate round of the 2013 Super Taikyu Series at Suzuka on September 20-21. The sprint format event stages three 40-minute, single driver races in support of the World Touring Car Championship.

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.

Photo by PETRONAS Syntium Team.

Darryl O'YoungHaving lost its pole position due to stalling at the start of formation lap, then started last in the pit lane before crawling back to second. Yet, Lady Luck turns her back against Darryl again as the left rear suspension failure grounded the team in the pit for another 45 minutes. From then on, the No 1 Chinese GT driver Darryl O’Young and his Team PCS drove frenetically with numerous fastest laps to claim a respectable 3rd place finish at the Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race 2009 (MME thereafter) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, completing 300 laps in total, just six short of champion Team Petronas Syntium.

“We definitely came here to win, we are able to do it, and the champion is only for us to lose. For us to fail with such a minor problem is truly sad and disappointing, though everyone on the team are satisfied with the comeback effort. Hopefully I can come back next year with the team to compete again,” Darryl goes on to express his thanks to team Singaporean owner Mok Weng Sun, who is also one of the three drivers, and the entire team.

O’Young inspired team to great comeback amid of disasters

Led by Hong Kong driver Darryl O’Young, defending champion team PCS Racing didn’t get off to a flying start as many may have expected, instead the car stalled and failed to go for the formation lap, and was degraded from the pole position to start the race from the pit as the last car. However, with the superiority of the car, the team is easily the fastest on the track, and the team overtakes opponents at will and placed the car back to second place, before disaster struck again. The left rear suspension bolt on the car broke during the first hour of the stint, costing the team some precious 45 minutes in the pit before they were back on track.

When Darryl first took the wheel after the accident, PCS Racing was trailing 15 laps, and was down in the 43rd places, out of 44 teams. Thanks to some gorgeous driving by Darryl and his teammates, PCS Racing climbed back up the table strongly again, ranking 20th at the 3.5 hours mark, sixth at the seventh hour mark, and back onto the podium into the last three hours of the race, trailing only six laps at one point of the two leading Petronas BMW’s, this is also the final difference between PCS Racing and the very top of the podium.

“I drove pretty well throughout the race, but accidents are not what we can control. We are the fastest car on the track, and managed to push the car to its maximum potential crawling back, what we need is just more time if we are to complete the comeback, maybe 14 hours will do,” said the 29 years-old driver, who drove for four stints combining four and a half hours on the track.

2009 MME is Darryl’s third endurance race in as many months since his Le Mans debut back in June, racing both in Europe and Asia, it is also the tenth edition of the race. Initiated in 2000, MME is held annually at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, which is also famous for holding Formula One, Moto GP and A1GP races. Darryl O’Young’s PCS Racing is the first ever foreign-based team to take the crown in MME history, when the team triumphed in 2008.

Darryl O'YoungTop Chinese GT race driver Darryl O’Young will defend his championship title at the Merdeka Millenium Endurace Race 2009 tomorrow. The only 12 hours endurance race in Southeast Asia will be held from 1130 to 2330 at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia on August 8 Saturday. O’Young won the 2008 edition with two other teammates in the Singapore-based Team PCS Racing after finishing first with a record 308 laps in Class O.

This is Darryl’s third endurance race in three consecutive months after having raced at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans and finished with a respectable fifth at the 24 Hours of Spa only two weeks ago. The 29-year-old scored championship points in every race this season and currently ranks an overall 8th in the FIA GT2 Driver Championship.

Please visit www.malaysiagp.com.my/mmer for more race information or www.darryloyoung.com for the latest updates about Darryl.