Jono Lester (born 8 December 1989, Palmerston North) is a racing driver from New Zealand, competing in various GT3 championships throughout Asia.

 Jono Lester (NZL)
Jono Lester
BornJonathan Robert Lester
(1989-12-08) 8 December 1989 (age 30)
Palmerston North (New Zealand)
Blancpain GT Asia career
Current teamAbsolute Racing
Car number912
Co-driverYuan Bo (CHN)
Starts284
Wins32
Podiums98
Poles32
Fastest laps32
Previous series
2018

2017
2016



2015
2012-13
2012
2010
2006-09
2008
2004-05
2003-04
Thailand Super Series
Intercontinental GT Challenge
Super GT
Asian Le Mans Series
GT Asia Series
China GT
Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia
Australian GT
Super Taikyu
Toyota Racing Series
Porsche Supercup
Porsche GT3 Cup NZ
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia
Formula Challenge
Formula First NZ
Championship titles
2013
2007-09
2005
NZ Endurance Champion
NZ Time Attack Champion
NZ Formula Challenge Champion
Awards
2010

2008
2007
Porsche Motorsport Talent Scholarship
The President's Scholarship
Steel Trophy

CareerEdit

Family HeritageEdit

Jono is a third generation driver, with grandfather Rob, father Richard and Aunt Debbie all winning National titles.

Grandparents Rob and Wendy originally set up the Manfeild circuit in Feilding, running events and operations for over thirty years until retirement in 2003.[1]

Rob was awarded the prestigious Jim Clark Trophy in 1979. Richard and Debbie were respective Steel Trophy recipients in 1983 and 1986, representing New Zealand's top driver under 21 years of age.[2]

Richard founded the Shell Formula Ford Scholarship in the early 1990s, which launched the career of many drivers including Bathurst winner Greg Murphy.

Early YearsEdit

Jono Lester didn't take the conventional junior pathway of karting, beginning his driving career in Formula Vee at age 13.

He dovetailed his two seasons in Formula Vee with Formula Challenge, and occasional races in HQ Holdens and the North Island Endurance Series.

He won the 2014 Formula Challenge Summer Series.

Porsche Carrera CupsEdit

Lester's career took another unconventional turn when he graduated to the Porsche GT3 Cup in 2006.

In doing so he became the world's youngest competitor in a Porsche one-make Cup, aged 16 years and 10 months.[3]

Four months later, in March 2007, he took his maiden victory at Timaru International Motor Raceway to become the World's Youngest Porsche Cups race winner.

Lester finished fourth overall in his debut season, trailing Craig Baird, Fabian Coulthard and Matt Halliday.

In 2009, he won both the Hamilton 400 and Taupo A1GP Trophy events, however a brief foray in the 2008 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship was curtailed due to a lack of budget.

Lester won a Porsche Motorsport Talent Factory Scholarship in 2010, after a global shootout of 12 drivers at ACI Vallelunga Circuit, Italy. His prize was a start in the Porsche Supercup at the Monza Grand Prix, where he finished 13th in a field of 32.[4]

GT RacingEdit

2012Edit

Lester was signed by the PETRONAS Syntium Team in 2012 for Japan's Super Taikyu Series. He finished second overall in the Championship, driving a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3.[5]

2013Edit

Lester returned to Japan with the PETRONAS team in 2013. He again finished second overall in the Super Taikyu Series.

He also joined Bernd Schneider for the 12 Hour Merdeka Millennium Endurance (MME) race at Sepang, but retired while leading in the early stages with an engine failure.[6]

2015Edit

Lester joined New Zealand's Trass Family Motorsport for 2015, driving a Ferrari 458 in both the Bathurst 12 Hour and the Australian GT Championship.

He scored five of seven pole positions in the Australian GT Championship, including three in a row to set two all-time category records.[7]

Lester's final race with the team ended in controversy, when the TFM Ferrari was disqualified while leading the season-ending Highlands 101 in New Zealand, after pitting outside the compulsory time window.

2016Edit

Lester returned to Asia in 2016, competing in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia, GT Asia, China GT and the Asian Le Mans Series.

In Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia, he finished second overall with three pole positions, one win and nine podiums, driving with Japanese Yudai Uchida.[8]

In the GT Asia Series, he scored GruppeM Racing's first and only podium finish on debut with the team at the Okayama International Circuit, driving a Porsche GT3-R with Englishman Tim Sugden.[9]

In China GT, he was a winner in GTC at Chengdu driving a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with Chinese driver Pan Chao with the local JRM Team.[10]

In the Asian Le Mans Series, he paired with former F1 test driver Fairuz Fauzy of Malaysia, and Australian Liam Talbot in OD Racing's McLaren 650S GT3.

Lester also made his Japanese Super GT debut in 2016, with a one-off drive at the Suzuka 1000 km in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with the Direction Racing team. The car finished many laps down in 19th after multiple tyre failures during the race.[11]

2017Edit

In 2017, Lester made his full-time Japanese Super GT debut. See the section below for details.

2018Edit

In 2018, Lester is racing in the Thailand Super Series, Blancpain GT Series Asia and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

In the Thailand Super Series, he was a sole entrant at the opening round of the Championship in a Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo, but was uncompetitive.

He changed vehicles for round two onwards, pairing with Japanese Akihiro Asai in a Vattana Motorsport Lamborghini Gallardo FL2. The pair won three of six races together, with Lester finishing third in the Championship and helping Vattana Motorsport to the Team's Title.[12]

In Blancpain GT Series Asia, Lester was bought in mid-season to partner Australian Nick Foster at HubAuto Corsa, driving a Ferrari 488.[13]

The pair finished second in their first race together at Fuji Speedway, and took HubAuto's first win at the following round in Shanghai. At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Lester and Foster netted two wins and four podiums from six races.[14]

In the Intercontinental GT Challenge, Lester joined Japanese team D’station Racing for the Suzuka 10 Hours in a Porsche 991 GT3-R. Driving with Tsubasa Kondo and Satoshi Hoshino, they finished many laps down in 28th with multiple unscheduled pit stops to rectify electrical and cooling issues.

SUPER GTEdit

Lester joined Gulf Racing in the GT300 class of Japanese Super GT for 2017, driving a Porsche 991 GT3-R.[15]

Paired with Japanese Kyosuke Mineo, they scored a podium on debut at Okayama, finished third after starting 15th on the grid.

Three more top five finishes throughout the season netted Gulf Racing 8th overall in the GT300 standings.

Lester was set to return with the team for 2018, but a budget cut forced an eleventh hour exit. Mineo also left the team.

New ZealandEdit

2012Edit

At the start of 2012, Lester made the step into open-wheel racing joining the Toyota Racing Series with ETEC Motorsport. He scored a podium in the opening race of the season and finished sixth in the New Zealand Grand Prix.[16]

In another deviation from GT racing, he joined John McIntyre Racing for the V8 SuperTourers Endurance Championship Endurance Series in a Ford Falcon FG. Lester and McIntyre scored two podium finishes at the opening round, the Taupo 400.[17]

He also joined Simon Ellingham at Fastway Racing, finishing third overall in the South Island Endurance Series driving a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup.

2013Edit

Lester returned with both John McIntyre Racing and Fastway Racing for 2013.

An uncompetitive run in the V8 SuperTourers saw Lester leave the team after two rounds of the Endurance Series, while at Fastway Racing Lester and Ellingham clean-swept the New Zealand Endurance Championship with two poles and two victories in their Porsche 997.[18]

2014Edit

Lester raced in both the North and South Island Endurance Series’ in 2014 with Trass Family Motorsport, driving a Ferrari F430 Challenge.

He won the Hampton Downs 3 Hour race, driving with Robin Gray.

2015Edit

Lester returned to the local Endurance Series’ in 2015 with Trass Family Motorsport, this time driving a GT3-spec Ferrari F430 with Graeme Smyth. The car was fast but unreliable, and failed to finish a race.

AwardsEdit

Lester was a recipient of the Steel Trophy in 2007, representing New Zealand's top driver under 21 years of age.[19]

In 2008, Lester was awarded The President's Scholarship, a MotorSport New Zealand award in conjunction with world-renowned sports neuroscientist Dr. Kerry Spackman.[20]

Racing recordEdit

Career summaryEdit

Season Series Team Races Wins Podiums Poles F/Laps Points Position
2003 NZ Formula First Championship Sabre Motorsport 21 18th
Formula First Winter Series Sabre Motorsport 12 7 1 2nd
2004 New Zealand Grand Prix Richard Lester Motorsport 1 NC
Formula Challenge Summer Series Richard Lester Motorsport 6 4 6 4 4 1st
NZ Formula First Championship Richard Lester Motorsport 17 5 9th
Formula First Winter Series Richard Lester Motorsport 12 4 4th
Pukekohe 6 Hour Race Richard Lester Motorsport 1 1 1 NC
NZ HQ Holden Championship Richard Lester Motorsport 3 1 4th
2005 Formula Challenge Winter Series Richard Lester Motorsport 6 3 5 1 3rd
2006 New Zealand Porsche GT3 Cup Richard Lester Motorsport 20 1 2 4th
2007 New Zealand Porsche GT3 Cup International Motorsport 15 1 7 1 2 5th
Porsche GT3 NZ: Hamilton 400 International Motorsport 3 1 4th
New Zealand Time Attack Series EVO88U Racing 1 1 1 1 1 1st
2008 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship Greg Murphy Racing 19
New Zealand Porsche GT3 Cup International Motorsport 12 1 5 4th
New Zealand Sportscar Series Juno Racing NZ 3 2 2 1 3 1st
New Zealand Time Attack Series EVO88U Racing 1 1 1 1 1 1st
2009 Porsche GT3 NZ: Taupo A1GP Trophy International Motorsport 3 2 3 2 1 1st
Porsche GT3 NZ: Hamilton 400 International Motorsport 3 1 1st
2010 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Porsche AG 1 NC
New Zealand Time Attack Series Cheapskates Racing 1 1 2nd
2011 Toyota Racing Series ETEC Motorsport 3 4th
align="left" |World Time Attack Challenge align="left" | Team RevolutioNZ 1 13th
New Zealand Time Attack Series EVO88U/Cheapskates Racing 2 1 2 1 1st
2012 Super Taikyu Endurance Series PETRONAS Syntium Team 6 1 4 3 1 80 2nd
Toyota Racing Series ETEC Motorsport 15 1 514 11th
V8 SuperTourers Endurance Championship John McIntyre Racing 5 2 771 11th
South Island Endurance Series Fastway Racing 4 1 1 2 3 270 3rd
2013 Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race PETRONAS Syntium Team 1 NC
Super Taikyu Endurance Series PETRONAS Syntium Team 5 1 3 2 2 86 2nd
New Zealand Endurance Championship Fastway Racing 2 2 2 2 2 150 1st
V8 SuperTourers Endurance Championship John McIntyre Racing 6 217 18th
2014 Australian GT Championship (Phillip Island) Fastway Racing 1 55 18th
Australian GT Championship (Highlands Park) Trass Family Motorsport 2
Highlands 101 Endurance Race Trass Family Motorsport 1 NC
Hampton Downs 3 Hour Race Trass Family Motorsport 1 1 1 1st
Hampton Downs 6 Hour Race Trass Family Motorsport 1 NC
2015 Bathurst 12 Hour Trass Family Motorsport 1 NC
Australian GT Championship Trass Family Motorsport 11 5 4 3 496 5th
Highlands 101 Endurance Race Trass Family Motorsport 1 1 DSQ
North Island Endurance Series Trass Family Motorsport 2 1 1 107 4th
2016 Japanese Super GT 1000 km Suzuka Direction 108 Racing 1 19th
Asian Le Mans Series OD Racing Best Leader Team 3 1 4 37th
GT Asia Series Arrows GruppeM Racing 4 1 32 22nd
China GT Championship JR Motorsports Club 4 1 2 NC
Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia Direction Racing 10 1 9 4 2 126 2nd
2017 Japanese Super GT Gulf Racing Japan 8 1 31 8th
2018 Thailand Super Series Vattana Motorsport 8 3 4 2 3 120 3rd
GT Asia Series Vattana Motorsport 4 1 2 1 N/A
Blancpain GT Series Asia HubAuto Corsa 6 2 4 8th (Part-season)
Suzuka 10 Hours D'station Racing 1 9th

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The face of Manfeild Park for 30 years Wendy Lester remembered". Manawatu Evening Standard.
  2. ^ "MotorSport New Zealand Premier Awards". MotorSport New Zealand.
  3. ^ "Young Guns head fresh Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge line-up". Porsche GT3 Cup NZ.
  4. ^ "Lester thrilled with Porsche Supercup debut at Monza". iSportz.
  5. ^ "Lester finishes second in Super Taikyu Endurance Series". Scoop.
  6. ^ "2013 Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race - The Preview". 9tro.com.
  7. ^ "Lap and pole position records for Lester in Australian GT". Trass Family Motorsport.
  8. ^ "Jono Lester wins at Suzuka in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia". motornews.co.nz.
  9. ^ "Lester scores GT Asia podium on debut at Okayama". Speedcafe.
  10. ^ "Lester wins on China GT debut at Chengdu". MotorSport New Zealand.
  11. ^ "KIWI JONO LESTER SET FOR SUPER GT DEBUT AT FUJI". Super GT World.
  12. ^ "Lester and Asai win again on the streets of Bangsaen". nzmotorracing.co.nz.
  13. ^ "Four Ferrari crews racing at Fuji". Ferrari Competizioni GT.
  14. ^ "Lester, Foster and HubAuto Finish Blancpain GT Asia Season With Victory At Ningbo". motornews.co.nz.
  15. ^ "Jono Lester signs with iconic Gulf Racing team for Porsche tilt in Japanese Super GT". motornews.co.nz.
  16. ^ "ETEC drivers takes positives from wild Teretonga TRS opener". TenTenths.
  17. ^ "Double podium for McIntyre and Lester in V8 SuperTourer enduro". JMR.
  18. ^ "Lester and Ellingham win New Zealand Endurance Championship". CRC MotorNews.co.nz.
  19. ^ "2007 Steel Trophy recipient". MotorSport New Zealand.
  20. ^ "Neuroscientist to work with three leading race drivers". The Winner's Bible.

External linksEdit