Jono Lester is pleased with the DFM Racing team’s performance in the three-hour North Island Endurance race at Hampton Downs on Saturday.
Lester and co-driver Matt Dovey claimed fifth overall and first in Class 1 (3501cc and over).
The result was a positive stride forward for the team after they withdrew from the season opener at Pukekohe due to a broken driveshaft.
“We just wanted to finish and get some more information on things like tyres,” Lester told Velocity News.
“It was a productive outing, and there were lots of positives to take away.
“There were also some new guys who had never been to a race before and were on the rattle guns. But the pitstops and driver changes were excellent.”
Wet conditions for practice and qualifying on Friday suggested the team would be a thorn in the side of the GT3 cars if the weather didn’t improve on race day.
Despite thunderstorms forecasted to hit at the start of the three-hour, the race remained largely dry throughout.
But come lap one, Lester pulled off a highlight-reel double overtake on the International Motorsport Audi R8s around the outside of turn one.
The move elevated him from fifth to third, and he remained inside the top-three for a decent amount of time until the GT3 cars re-discovered their footing.
“I had been preparing that move around the outside of the Audis all night and all morning,” Lester said.
“I was starting on the inside and was always going to move across at the start.
“But I didn’t expect to hold the Audis off for as long as we did.”
Lester and Dovey quickly entered a holding pattern once the GT3 field got past them.
The two finished nine laps down on race winners Jonny Reid and Neil Foster.
Lester says the margin between the Audi and GT3 cars seems to have closed a small bit between seasons.
However, he believes the gap could be bridged further by implementing a Balance of Performance system.
“With the unregulated GT3 cars, we are never going to catch them unless they run an FIA-approved Balance of Performance,” he said.
“Those things unleashed are like rocket ships.
“There is daylight to the guys ahead of us and daylight back to the guys behind us.
“I think running BoP will be beneficial…and it might make people with cars that aren’t running more inclined to get amongst it.”
Since the end of last year, DFM made several upgrades to their car to continue chasing the gap between themselves and the GT3 cars.
“Like with any homebuild you are in a constant process of upgrades and improving,” Lester said.
“When you improve one thing, you then need to change two or three more things.
“We turned up to Pukekohe with the engine further down and further back to lower the centre of gravity.
“We were having a problem last year with getting the power down.
“Now I have a platform where, when I put my foot down, the car doesn’t just burst into wheelspin.”
The team debuted upgrades to the Audi’s diffusor at Hampton Downs and are aiming to add a flat floor to the car ahead of round three at Taupo.
Still, Lester is holding out for some more inclement weather once he and the team arrive at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park later this month.
“It is not a track that will suit us if it is dry,” he said.
“But, like at Hamptons, if it buckets down or is bitterly cold, and I expect it to be at least one of them, that should close the gap.”
Except for Lester and mechanic Kerry Holland, the DFM Racing team is comprised mainly of the Dovey family, family friends and volunteers.
The team has a unique atmosphere that Lester enjoys being a part of.
“It is a fun garage to be apart of, and that is important any time you are racing.”
Round Three of the Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series at Taupo will be held on June 11-12.