John McIntyre has selected the multi-talented, race-winning Jono Lester to be his co-driver in the V8 Super Tourers' three-round endurance race series, which runs from September to November this year.
McIntyre, based in Nelson, says the 22-year-old from Manawatu has an impressive pedigree of international race successes which sits well alongside his sound knowledge of the three circuits where the endurance races will run.
"Jono Lester is the perfect partner for me in the No47 JMR Falcon; he's a talented Kiwi on the rise," McIntyre said. "I have watched, as a teenager, he won races, rounds and pole positions in the New Zealand Porsche GT3 Cup and then went on to be fifth fastest in 2010 Porsche Supercup world final at Monza in Italy.
"This year he has been chosen to drive a 6.2-litre 600 hp V8 Mercedes Benz SLS in the Super Taikyu endurance series in Japan. So, for me, he clearly has the raw speed we require and now he is getting high level experience in Japan to compliment his speed; it's an easy choice."
Lester is excited by McIntyre's invitation to join him as the team's enduro driver.
"John runs, in my opinion, the best operation in the championship, on and off the track, and he is totally professional about his motor racing. So to partner John, whom I rate very highly, is such a wonderful opportunity for me," he said.
Lester said the endurance racing experience he was gaining in Japan was proving invaluable.
"The six-round Super Taikyu endurance series features three to four hour-long races with a field of 45 cars of all speeds and marques, and the key to winning comes just as much down to traffic handling as raw speed," he said. "All of the FIA GT3-spec cars in the class I contest feature at least one former Super GT 300 and 500 championship winner in their driver line-up, so there are some really competitive benchmarks here."
Lester stepped into the JMR car for the first time yesterday at Hampton Downs, getting a run in the first two-hour practice session of the weekend to learn more about the car and how the team operates.
"We want to give Jono every opportunity to get up to speed in our V8 Super Tourer. Due to the fact he is currently driving a faster GT3-spec Mercedes, he should find the Super Tourer an easy car to drive. We need him ready to win races in September," McIntyre said.
The V8 Super Tourer endurance race format is being finalised, as is the date for the first endurance event at Taupo Motorsport Park in September.
The last weekend in October sees a 500km event scheduled at Pukekohe Park Raceway, and the endurance championship wraps up at Ruapuna outside Christchurch on the final weekend of November.
- © Fairfax NZ News