Paddock magazine catches up with Jono Lester, a very promising driver from New Zealand!
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What was your very first experience of motor racing?
I attended my first race just three weeks after I was born when my father Richard finished second in the New Zealand Grand Prix for Formula Pacific cars. Insofar as getting behind the wheel myself, it was in Formula Vee at Manfeild – the circuit built and ran by my grandparents. I finished in second place and my racing career began right at that moment.
I don’t see any good coming from getting hung up on rivals and their performance. Instead, I focus on myself and the elements I have control over.
How did you finance your early years?
My first season was funded partially by the family and partially by sponsorship. In Formula Vee a National Championship costs around $12-15,000 NZD (7,000 GBP), so even a pretty modest household could justify it. From that point forward we were 100% reliant on sponsorship and non-stop hustling until I reached professional status in 2012 when I was signed to race in Japan. So, for nine years we knew the ‘grind’ of up-and-coming drivers and it instilled a work ethic in me that I am thankful for.
One of the biggest challenges for every driver is to attract sponsorship. What is your recipe of success?
Treat every single prospect on a case-by-case basis. Every individual or corporation has different goals and messages they want to get across, so don’t recite a generic pitch or focus on the elements of your package that might not appeal to them. These days, when getting additional funding for the TFM Ferrari team, I don’t even take a proposal with me, aside from a season calendar, media stats and a livery mock-up of the car. Most of the sell is done by your personality and your delivery.
How do you deal with the competition on the track?
The other drivers are just obstacles to overcome. Weather, car balance, tyre lifting, pit stops, strategies – they are all just objects in your way that you deal with as they present themselves. I don’t see any good coming from getting hung up on rivals and their performance. Instead, I focus on myself and the elements I have control over.
What are your career highlights?
Results-wise landing a Junior Scholarship with Porsche was a real highlight as was a selection of wins in my Porsche and Mercedes-Benz days. There is a lot of personal highlights aside from that also – lining up in the Porsche Supercup at Monza, winning my first ever race, and our speed on the debut of the new TFM Ferrari 458 GT3 just last month. That has set up a big 2015 programme with the Bathurst 12 Hour and a full Australian GT campaign in our Kiwi ‘Prancing Horse’ – I can’t wait!
Date and place of birth:
Palmerston North, New Zealand.
December 8, 1989.
Trass Family Motorsport. New Zealand’s Ferrari Racing Team.
2012 & 2013 Super Taikyu GT3 Series [Japan]: 2nd overall
2013 New Zealand Endurance Champion
2010 Porsche AG Junior Scholarship
2009 Hamilton 400 & Taupo A1GP Trophy Winner
World’s Youngest Porsche Cups winner