Jono Lester has finished in thirteenth position in the Team RevolutioNZ Mitsubishi Evo at the 2011 World Time Attack Challenge, held at Eastern Creek over the weekend
Representing New Zealand, Lester and his all-Kiwi support team took on powerhouse teams from Japan, the USA and Australia in front of thousands of spectators over two days of competition.
With the format allowing four separate 15-minute sessions per class, per day; strategy played a key part as teams weighed up the weather, wind, track and air temperature, and of course tyre allocation and vehicle setup.
Lester used the first Time Attack session on Friday to learn the Eastern Creek circuit, recording a single flying lap of 1:34.8 to place the team in seventh overall at that point.
With a mysterious misfire developing at the start of the second session and worsening with every subsequent run, no further times were recorded until a broken rocker was discovered with just two runs remaining on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a mixture of relief, excitement and frustration,” Lester said.
“We thought we had a fuel delivery issue, and with such short turnaround time session to session, we couldn’t pull the car apart and look for every other possible problem. It was only when we had nowhere else to turn that we turned to the engine and there it was, staring right up at us!”
Conditions for the mid-afternoon Time Attack session were perfect, and Lester began his flying lap with the car running clean for the first time in over 24 hours.
The cheers from the team in the pits were short-lived, however, when the sub-frame snapped under the significant torque of the engine, dropping the rear axle and driveshaft out of their housing and snapping a half-shaft in the process.
With no parts available to repair the damage, the weekend was over for Lester and Team RevolutioNZ.
“It was just one of those weekends really, what can I say! I’m just really gutted that we didn’t get a chance to prove our worth. I know, I just know that we had a whole lot more juice in the tank.
“And that goes for me as well as the car, I only had one lap at speed to learn the circuit and as a driver it eats away at you when you have a carrot dangling in front of you like that!”
The support offered to the kiwi Team RevolutioNZ by V-Sport Australia and the wider Australian performance car industry; as well as second-placed finishers Sierra Sierra Enterprises from the USA, was well received and appreciated.
“These people just blew us away. We can’t thank them enough. They were all so eager to help us, and so open with their information and advice. You just don’t get that in normal circuit racing, and I think that’s part of why Time Attack is growing so rapidly around the world.
“You literally couldn’t move in the pits, there were people everywhere. It was an amazing experience.”
The Japanese CyberEvo team were the winners for the second time with a lap time of 1:28.8 on D.O.T rated road tyres; 1.3 seconds quicker than Craig Lowndes’ chart-topping pre-season test time for the V8 Supercar Series in March this year.
A testament to the increased competition at this year’s World Time Attack Challenge, CyberEvo’s winning time was around two seconds quicker than in 2010.
For Lester and Team RevolutioNZ, their attention now turns to the 2012 WTAC, and a full summer programme in New Zealand with Time Attack racing and the GT1/GT2 racing series.
“If anything, the result in Australia has only given us more motivation to come back bigger and better next year. We’ve caught the bug now, and we want to show the Time Attack world what we can really do!”