Jono LesterJono Lester has finished his Toyota Racing Series debut in fourth overall, driving for ETEC Motorsport at the Battery Town 200 at the Taupo Motorsport Park over the weekend.

In what was his first appearance in a ‘wings and slicks’ single seater, Lester scored fifth, fourth and fourth place finishes over the weekend’s three races, after qualifying in seventh position.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience on and off the track. The team, the organisation, the competition, and of course the racing, which was pure excitement!” Lester said.

With the opportunity presented to Lester by ETEC Motorsport and Barrie Thomlinson of the Toyota Racing Series just days before the event, the 21-year old put together a support package from a number of loyal supporters and arrived at Taupo with a clear and open mind.

“The intention was never to go out there and be a hero, as we knew how tough the competition in TRS is. Right from Thursday’s first run in the car, we improved steadily, chipped away at the lap times, and came to grips with the car and how it needs to be driven.

As you can imagine, it’s quite a lot different to a Porsche, but I didn’t realise just how much until official testing. I felt like I was on the limit and Mitch [Evans] was still streaks ahead. He provided a terrific benchmark all weekend. It was just a pleasure to be out there doing it again, I must say!”

The event was Lester’s first on New Zealand soil in two years, but the lack of recent racing impacted little on his hunger on the track. Three close and competitive races saw a number of passing manouvres and high pressure situations, on both offence and defence.

“They were three of the most exciting races I’ve ever experienced. I was learning on the go, picking up tips from the other drivers every lap and getting my first feel for using aero effectively when you’re tucked up under somebody’s gearbox. But at the same time, it was clean and respectful racing.”

Lester and his supporters are now looking ahead to the rest of the 2011 season and into the future.

“My career intentions remain clear – I want to pursue a career in sports car endurance racing overseas. As much as I’ve loved my single seater debut, and as much as I’m learning and will continue to learn, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. These young guys are just as hungry as me and they have age on their side.

“But for the 2012 Toyota Racing Series season, we will be pushing hard to be on the grid. For my development as a driver, it would be a great championship to compete in.”

Jono Lester was supported in his Toyota Racing Series debut at Taupo by Radiance “Supplements for Life”, Gourmet Direct “100% NZ Grown Meat”, Opti Flex, Vortex Racewear, Hornet Performance Nutrition, AAA Roofing and iSign It.