Aston Martin’s new Vantage GT3 Evo car is on track this weekend in Malaysia. Asian Motorsport spoke to Jono Lester, who will drive it in the 12 Hours of Sepang.

By Steven Walton

Kiwi driver Jono Lester took just four words to sum up his thoughts on Aston Martin’s new Vantage GT3 Evo. “Mate, it’s a rocket,” he said.

Lester is racing the Vantage GT3 Evo in this weekend’s 12 Hours of Sepang, which is scheduled to start on Saturday at 10 am local time (2 am GMT). The race will be live-streamed on Facebook.

Aston Martin revealed the new Vantage GT3 Evo last month. It made its competitive debut on March 2 in the FIA World Endurance Championship Qatar 1812km, where it finished second and third.

New Zealand-based team, FHK Racing by Prime Speed Sport, has entered one Vantage GT3 Evo in the 12 Hours of Sepang.

Lester, a professional GT driver, will share driving duties with Francois Beziac and Heremana Malmezac, who have both raced GT machinery in New Zealand.

‘It gives you a lot of confidence’

Lester told Asian Motorsport he saw the car for the first time on Sunday in Malaysia.

The team tested the car at Sepang on Monday and were on track again for official 12 Hours of Sepang testing on Thursday.

Lester said the team chose the Aston Martin after getting good feedback from Kiwi driver Earl Bamber.

“He gave us a very positive response about what he thought of the car, not only for himself but more so for the amateur driver[s] in terms of its driveability and its user-friendliness,” he said.

Lester said the Aston Martin was fast and incredibly stable.

“So it gives you a lot of confidence as a driver, not only for a pro but for the amateurs as well,” he said.

“And obviously in this pro-am world of racing, your results are determined by an aggregate of drivers of different abilities and experiences, so the easier it is for everybody to drive, the quicker we’ll go.”

He said the car’s braking performance had stood out. “Some of the [brake] points I’ve been able to hit in testing so far are so late that it baffles me.”

First endurance race for the team

The 12 Hours of Sepang is the first race outside of New Zealand for FHK Racing by Prime Speed Sport. Lester said it was the first of five major events the team plans to race in this year.

“We’ve got races in Italy and Spain, obviously Asia, and then we’re going to roll that – all going well – into Asian Le Mans at the end of the year and then the intention for 2025 is to go full-time into Europe,” he said.

“Our team itself, our crew and my fellow drivers in the car have never done anything outside of New Zealand,” Lester said.

He said the 12 Hours of Sepang was a “great stepping stone”.

“It’s obviously still very competitive, there’s world-class teams and world-class drivers, but of course Europe’s another level again. So we want to make sure that when we arrive there, we don’t look like deer in the headlights or fish out of water,” he said.

The team was looking at the Bathurst 12 Hour for their debut endurance race, but Lester said: “Sepang’s a much safer and more sensible option for now.”

FHK Racing by Prime Speed Sport is the only team that has entered an Aston Martin in the 12 Hours of Sepang.

Header image credit: Resoworks, supplied by Jono Lester

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