Having grown up at the Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, 33-year-old Jono Lester returns for the season’s final round – joining the Porsche Aedifice team alongside Francois Beziac.
Previously paired with Porsche Aedifice teammate Heremana Malmezac, Lester beams with enthusiasm at getting to race at a location he spent most of his life at.
“It’s a venue that brings out the best in any type of race, car or series – because the insistence Pop (Lester’s grandfather, Rob) had at having banked turns,” begins the story recounted from his grandfather.
Winding the clock back to the early 1970’s, Lester senior headed a group to plan out the venue. The story reveals why Lester junior is so keen to return to racing there.
“Pop went to Bulls and spent time with Chris Amon planning out the circuit using cardboard. When they got the layout doable it was with the assistance of Pat Higgins they introduced the 7-degree banking.
“It was to make for an average lap time driving speed of 100mph.
“If it’s a Super Truck or Formula Vee you get some of the most cracking racing because you can get two-wide at almost every corner. You can set someone up at almost every turn and make a pass.”
Having raced so many different types of car at the circuit architected by his grandfather, Lester says the Golden Homes GT New Zealand event will be a historic moment.
“It’d be an easy ten years since I last raced there – and never in a proper GT series like it will be this time.
“I’ve not driven with Francois yet so am looking forward to that too”.
Lester says the driver change was strategic, to allow Malmezac to focus on the championship title.
Currently Malmezac holds second place, 32 points behind leader Marco Giltrap (Sixt Porsche 991) in the Open Class. A further two points behind is Luke Manson (Porsche 991) with Rick Armstrong (Porsche) a further eight points away. Malmezac won the season opening round alongside Lester.
In the GT4 Class Jono McFarlane (Mercedes) holds a 50-point lead over Nigel Cromie (McLaren 570s) – and while Stephen Harrison sits in third, is a long-shot 101 points away from the lead.
Palmerston North’s Brian Green will again be driving with David Rogers in the McLaren 570s.
Following qualifying early Saturday morning the action begins with an hour-long race from 1:40pm.
Sunday’s two races will be televised live, starting with a 30-minute race from 9:17am and the season concluding 30-minute race from 1:58pm.