Jonathan Venter wins in South Korea
Jonathan Venter stormed to victory in race two of the GT Asia Series with a dominant nine second victory over second place at the Korea International Circuit. After securing pole position in qualifying two, the young driver drove a commanding race, leading the field for his entire stint before handing over to teammate, Darryl O’Young, who continued the #99 VLT-liveried Aston Martin’s run to the chequered flag, unable to be caught by the competition.
Jonathan Venter’s first qualifying session of the season was a major success. Although the young driver had no prior experience with the 5.62-km circuit, that did not stop him from posting the fastest time of the second session. Venter, hit the circuit and posted a 2:08:243, a time that was only .142s off his more experienced teammate and good enough to see him sit atop the leaderboard in first place. Throughout the session no one was able usurp the young Australian driver, his brilliant lap on the technical circuit would see him start on pole position for race two on Sunday. Venter’s teammate, Darryl O’Young, completed a 2:08:101 in Q1 to secure fifth fastest for the first race of the season.
Jonathan Venter, Driver #99 VLT
“I got the car on warm tyres from Darryl for qualifying and I was able to push in the opening few laps of the session and kept building up my pace until I finally reached the limit. The times were tight to get P1 from the Bentley in second and I’m really happy to get pole position for the first race tomorrow. I think it will put us on the front foot going into the race.”
It was Jonathan Venter’s teammate, Darryl O’Young who would start the season for the team in the #99 VLT-liveried car. O’Young made a strong start from P5 and cleanly made it through the first two corners. Unfortunately, on turn three, heavy contact from behind by Vernay sent the car sideways into Craig Baird, which would cause rear suspension damage that would rule them out of race one.
Jonathan Venter, Driver #99 VLT “It was a disappointment with race one, we definitely had potential and there was pace in the car the whole weekend, so for contact to happen in the first lap and having to retire was really disappointing. We have to keep focused for race one on Sunday where we start on pole position. We just need to maximize the number of points we can get out of it and put race one behind us."
Jonathan Venter began the race on pole position and made a brilliant start into the first corner, maintaining the first place position. Instantly, he began to widen the gap from those behind, using the clear air ahead to maximize his starting position and build up a commanding lead. Unfortunately, a safety car period diminished Venter’s lead, allowing the other drivers another chance at catching the flying VLT Aston Martin. Once normal racing resumed though, it was clear that Venter wasn’t even going to allow them the opportunity. He was back on his previous pace almost instantly and once again, began to move ahead.
Thinking about his compulsory pit stop and driver change to teammate Darryl O’Young, Venter continued putting in quick, consistent lap times, approaching those of qualifying. He stayed out on track for as long as possible before making his pit stop and driver change to maximize his gap but the Ferrari behind proved to be a strong challenge as the gap remained at only 2.5 seconds after Venter’s thirty-minute stint. Darryl O’Young would take over from Venter after another flawless pit stop by the Craft-Bamboo Racing team and would put in a stellar performance to bring the car home in P1.
Jonathan Venter’s first stint of the season demonstrated his ability to cope with pressure and be a true race leader, making no mistakes despite a very quick Ferrari’s best efforts to catch him. With the young driver only just beginning his first full GT Asia season, it only looks like he will be improving. The series travels to Okayama, Japan, for the weekend of June 27-28 and the GT Asia grid will be on the lookout for Jonathan Venter, who will be intent on building on his race two victory.
Jonathan Venter, Driver #99 VLT
“It was definitely great to walk away with a win, we went into the race with a strategy and we executed it perfectly. It was an advantage having two new sets of tyres and both Darryl and I did very consistent times, and I am now focusing on the next round in Okayama.”
1. 99. O’Young/Venter (Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin)
2. 37. Liu/Rizzo (Ferrari)
3. 8. Fong/Sawa (Bentley)
4. 11. Bhirom Bhakdi/Yokomizo (Ferrari)
5. 12. Wee/Baird (Ferrari)