There will be a second driver representing New Zealand in the upcoming Autobacs Super GT Series Fuji 300km GT Race, as 26-year-old Jono Lester will make his much-anticipated Super GT debut driving for Lamborghini Team Direction.
Lester passed his rookie test at the most recent official test session at Suzuka Circuit on July 9, and is now set to climb aboard the #108 Direction Lamborghini Huracan GT3 alongside 2012 GT300 champion, Kyosuke Mineo.
Lester, a third-generation driver born in Palmerston Heights, has already become a well-traveled racer in his young career. Starting at home in New Zealand, Lester was a multi-time race winner in the Porsche GT3 Cup NZ, and even made a one-off in the Porsche Supercup at the 2010 finale at Monza.
He got his first opportunity to race in Japan in the Super Taikyu Endurance Series, racing with the Petronas Syntium Team in the GT3-based ST-X category. In two seasons, Lester twice finished runner-up in the ST-X Drivers’ Championship, won three races and racked up six total podium finishes. During his tenure with the Petronas team, Lester was a co-driver to Super GT champions Masataka Yanagida and Tatsuya Kataoka.
Lester moved to the Australian GT Championship in late 2014, entered with newcomers Trass Family Motorsport. He entered the prestigious Bathurst 12 Hour Race in 2015, before going on to run the full 2015 Australian GT season – where he set a record five pole positions in a single season, and finished fifth in the championship for Trass Family Motorsport.
He’s shifted his focus back to Asia for 2016, racing in both the GT Asia Series for GruppeM Racing, and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia series with the Direction Racing team he’ll now race for in Super GT in a little under two weeks’ time.
Fuji will also mark the return of the #108 Direction Lamborghini to the series after sitting out the most recent race at Sugo.
Lester is now just the third driver from New Zealand to race in Super GT, after current Lexus Team au TOM’s driver Nick Cassidy, and the late Mark Porter, who raced in 1998 for Okura Rotary Racing in GT300.