Hitting the racetrack at 265km/h
Racer Jono Lester takes writer for a spin in his Ferrari 458 GT3 around Hampton Downs.
"Can't think of a better way to spend a Thursday," says Jono Lester as I'm folded into the passenger seat of his Ferrari 458 GT3.
There are worse ways to kill time than being driven around a racetrack at breakneck speeds in one of the world's coolest cars. Just as long as time is the only thing we kill.
Even watching TV reporter Matty McLean emerge from his ride with a face redder than the car's paintwork and stagger around like a drunken jellyfish hasn't shaken me.
I've got full confidence in Jono. From my experience, race car drivers are rivalled only by boxers when it comes to media-friendly self-promotion. So while Jono might do what he can to make me soil my race suit, he's not going to put me in danger.
Jono Lester's Ferrari 458 GT3.
Jono's granddad Rob helped build Manawatu's Manfeild Autocourse and his dad Richard was also a gun driver. By the time Jono was 7 he was tooling around the circuit in a Daihatsu Charade. At 13 he was racing open wheelers.
It's the car I don't trust. Italians have a reputation for making high-quality machinery, but machines have a habit of breaking at the wrong time. And I've already spotted a design flaw while the mechanics were busily checking it out. The engine is in the back, where the golf clubs should be.
If Jono sticks us into a wall at 300km/h, that engine block will be the last thing that goes through me.
I must have a word with Enzo.
Jono hits the start button and we're off. Flying. The acceleration (0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds) is impressive but what sets it apart is its braking, which is handy with a top speed of over 300km/h.
My faith in Jono takes a bit of a hit when we slide through the corners at the end of the back straight. I'd assumed this thing would handle like it was on rails but, unless I'm imagining it, we're losing traction in and out of the corners.
Heading down the home straight at 265km/h, Jono takes a hand off the wheel and starts fiddling with some bells and whistles on the dash. If he's re-tuning the radio I sure hope he's searching for religious programming. My attempt to shoot him a dirty look fails, because the G-forces are threatening to embed my eyeballs in my brain.
Just like that it's over. If the hot lap was a sexual encounter, Jono's $1 million Ferrari would be eyeing me dolefully and saying "don't worry love, it happens to everyone".
It doesn't, of course, but it should. Ferraris are cool. Getting to experience what they can do in the hands of the likes of Jono is even cooler.
Back in the pits Jono tells me the Hampton Downs circuit has been used for drifting recently and is what race-driver types call "green". And the car's setup is at its most basic, so we were indeed sliding around. But we were a long way from the car's limit.
That won't be the case next month when his Trass Family Motorsport team takes on the Bathurst 12-hour endurance race. By then the car will be operating at its peak. Hopefully he'll even have the stereo tuned.