DOUBLE VICTORY FOR LESTER AND HALLIDAY AT TAUPO Fast rising New Zealand Porsche driver Jono Lester has taken overall victory in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Trophy Event held in conjunction with the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Taupo over...
DOUBLE VICTORY FOR LESTER AND HALLIDAY AT TAUPO
Fast rising New Zealand Porsche driver Jono Lester has taken overall victory in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Trophy Event held in conjunction with the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Taupo over the weekend.
Lester, 19, teamed up with esteemed Porsche pilot Matt Halliday, who returned briefly from the United States for the event. The non-championship round introduced two 50-minute mini-endurance races, complete with driver changes, as well as two more familiar single driver sprints to make up the weekend.
Though Taupo was Lester's third race weekend in a row, the return to one of his 'home' circuits behind the wheel of the Blackwoods Paykels/26000 Vodka GT3 was anticipated as the highlight of the three, and the pair didn't muck around as both set the quickest qualifying laps in their respective sessions.
The opening 10-lap sprint didn't go the way of Lester who, starting from pole position made a blistering start to lead the field away before succumbing to a broken rear concentric arm late in the opening lap. The car was visibly unstable in a straight line and even more so under braking, however he was able to hold on to take third position at the finish.
Halliday's sprint was less dramatic as the former series ace struggled with grip to finish in second place behind V8 Supercar driver Shane van Gisbergen.
It was in the two enduros that Lester and Halliday shone, however, and in the first the pair crossed the line to take victory by nearly thirty seconds from the nearest car. A combination of good tyre management, quick in-and-out laps and a blistering pit stop from the International Motorsport team were all important factors in the victory.
The second 50-minute enduro was a more exciting affair in the opening half, as Halliday, van Gisbergen and Jody Vincent battled nose-to-tail for nearly half and hour before contact between the latter pair left van Gisbergen out of the race with a puncture.
Halliday was still pressured by Vincent late in his stint, however with another impressive pit stop Lester rejoined with a handy lead over former A1GP driver Jonny Reid which he stretched to sixteen seconds at the finish for a second clear victory for the Blackwoods Paykels/26000 Vodka pairing.
Afterwards Lester was full of praise not just for his co-driver but also for the slick pit work from his International Motorsport team.
"We put all our efforts into the two races that counted and we came away with the result," he said.
"Our pit stops were fantastic - 16 seconds in that second race - and Matt's been good, really good, particularly in terms of set up and his know-how with the car. So really it made it easy for me to do my job, keeping my times within a couple of tenths and consolidating our position."
Halliday was equally pleased with his return to home soil.
"You know how it is, the key with these cars is looking after the tyres, especially in longer races like these ones," he commented.
"We used to have 50 minute races like this - one driver - at Teretonga and I learned a lot about how to save your tyres from guys like Jimmy Richards and it all came back today.
"[The pit stops] are something which comes with experience, particularly with teams like FPR. It's something I've practiced a lot and ours - from the in lap to handing over the Jono - were pretty much perfect."
Lester returns to Taupo once again this coming weekend to compete at the Historic Race Meeting behind the wheel of the Juno SSE-NZ sportscar he has been testing over the summer, before resuming Porsche duties at Manfeild for round five of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge on February 27-March 01.