Jono LesterJono Lester will make this switch from Porsches to single seaters this summer as he prepares for his debut in the Toyota Racing Series with the ETEC Motorsport team.

The 22-year old Auckland based driver competed in the final round of the 2011 TRS championship at Taupo in March – finishing in fourth place overall – in preparation for the upcoming season; which is set to be the most competitive yet with a bumper international contingent and a tightly compressed series schedule.

“It’s a real pleasure to be a part of this championship and to be back behind the wheel again. The TRS Management and ETEC Motorsport have been a tremendous help in securing my place on the grid, and there’s nothing in this world more motivating for a driver than a simple opportunity. With the economy the way it is, each and every one of us is lucky to have one.”

Lester recently completed a successful two day pre-season test at Manfeild alongside fellow local drivers Mitch Evans, Nick Cassidy and Chris Vlok, as well as Malaysian ETEC team mate Melvin Moh, in preparation for the opening round of the Toyota Racing Series at Teretonga Park in Invercargill on January 12-15.

The move into single seater racing is somewhat of a career role-reversal for Lester, with many drivers taking the ‘wings and slicks’ path from a young age and progressing into GT & touring car racing later in their careers.

Lester insists however that this is an important part of his development as a driver;

“One of the first people to recommend the TRS to me was Chris Amon. His support and mentoring over the past 12 months has been terrific and I value his input as I work towards a sports prototype drive overseas.

“I’ve got to say that after tasting the TRS at Taupo in March, we couldn’t have made a better move.”

The 2012 Toyota Racing International Series is structured with five events over five consecutive weekends, with the championship working its way up country from Invercargill to Timaru, followed by events in Taupo, Hampton Downs and Manfeild.

Among many exciting new additions to the championship, the coveted New Zealand Grand Prix title will be decided in the final of the 15-race season, adding extra incentive and pressure on the large field of young drivers – something Lester hopes to take advantage of as the championship unfolds;

“I’m one of the old men of the series this year! While my recent experience behind the wheel has been limited, I pride myself on having a good race brain and a cool demeanour. These young guys are all blisteringly quick and have a lot of backing behind them, but consistency and experience is an area I hope to excel in over the course of the championship.”

“That motivation and the solid pre-season testing has my mind focussed on one thing and one thing only, and that is to win the championship and get my career back on the right track.”

Lester will compete with the support of championship winning Engineer Andy Neale, with ETEC’s five car line up also including Malaysian driver Melvin Moh, returning British rising star Josh Hill, Indian Shahaan Engineer and Victor Sendin of France.

Lester is supported in his campaign by the New Zealand Motorsport Trust and partnered with Counties Toyota, TradeZone Industrial, Ports of Auckland, Vortex Racewear, Hornet Nutrition, Opti-Flex, R Redpath Limited, Webdesign, iSign it, Sony Electronics, Loaded Sports Drink and Zero Water.