Following a tremendous performance at the third round of the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge at the Taupo A1GP event, it has now been announced that young gun Jono Lester has been signed with Greg Murphy Racing to take part in the 2008 ...
Following a tremendous performance at the third round of the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge at the Taupo A1GP event, it has now been announced that young gun Jono Lester has been signed with Greg Murphy Racing to take part in the 2008 Australian Porsche Carrera Cup.
Lester will team up with Peter Hill to form a two car team for the season, which kicks off in Adelaide at the Clipsal 500 event on February 21-24. Sponsorship arrangements are currently being negotiated and expected to be announced within the next few days.
"This is the opportunity my family, supporters and I have been waiting for, and all of our hard work is beginning to pay off," Lester said of the announcement. "I can't begin to tell you how elated I am, and to be doing the Carrera Cup with the Murphy's, considering our history, just takes it to another level."
He is talking, of course, of how Greg Murphy and his father Kevin -- after selling a television they won at a karting event -- entered, and subsequently won, the 1990 Shell Formula Ford Scholarship which launched a career that has brought with it much success. The scholarship initiative was run by Richard Lester, Jono's father, and throughout Greg's time with the team he lived with the Lesters, working with Richard at driver training days between events.
"It's slightly ironic," Murphy said of the deal. "But it's wonderful. He [Jono] was still in nappies when I started racing Formula Ford, so it makes me feel old, that's for sure!"
Jono's path to the Carrera Cup can be very much credited to his debut year in the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge last season, where he finished in fourth overall and became the youngest Porsche Carrera Cup race winner in world history at the Timaru event, at just 17 years of age.
"None of this would have been possible," Lester said, "without the vote of confidence I was given by Motorsport New Zealand and Grant Smith as an unproven 16-year old back in late 2006. That's what got me into the Porsche series, and now, it's the Giltrap family and Lyall Williamson's International Motorsport that have taken me one step further. I can't thank them enough."
By no means does the announcement have any impact on Jono's New Zealand championship duties; if anything, they are only increasing and will benefit substantially from the extra mileage the now-18 year old will be getting across the ditch. Unlike years gone by, there are now no date clashes between the two championships on either side of the Tasman, giving youngsters like Jono the opportunity to experience the best of both worlds.
And it's just as well, as the focus on the home series has only increased after Lester took his first victory of the season, and the round win along with it, at the A1GP meeting a little over a week ago. Now lying in fourth in the points and within reach of second placed Matt Halliday and International Motorsport team mate Daniel Gaunt in third, there is still plenty to fight for with three rounds to go.
The fourth round of the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge takes place at Jono's original home track, Manfeild Park, on February 15-17, before having to jet straight across to Adelaide to begin his duties in the Australian Porsche Carrera Cup the following weekend.
"It's going to be full on, doing two championships in the one year, but we drivers are always complaining about not having enough time on the track, so I'll be the last person making a song and dance about it!
When it comes down to it, I'm just going to have to be right on my game. I think I'm up to the challenge, so let's just wait and see."