Kiwi GT driver Brendon Leitch has secured a podium finish on debut in the Hankook 12 Hour GT race at Hockenheim in Germany, the fifth round of the 2021 24 Hour series.
The race was run in two parts over the weekend on the iconic Rhine Valley track – with the first segment a six and a half hour race on Saturday and Sunday’s concluding portion a five and a half hour race.
Having secured third on the grid for the race on Saturday morning, Leitch and team mates Tyler Cooke, Fidel Leib and Seb Morris were in the hunt for overall victory throughout the weekend in a three way battle for honours between their Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán, the Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 and eventual winners Pieder Decurtins, Manuel Lauck and Marc Basseng in the T2 Racing Porsche 911.
The result was all the more impressive for Invercargill racer Leitch, who double stinted in the closing stages of the concluding portion of the race and drove for five of the 12 racing hours.
In the first portion of the race the Lamborghini crew faced some early dramas when the anti-stall kicked in at the rolling start, but recovered strongly to battle their way into the top three with the cars covered throughout by less than a minute and a half. With event rules demanding teams start their cars in the second part of the race with the same tyres they finished part one on, Leitch took the start on rubber that was one and half hours old.
Despite that, Brendon hung onto the leaders and was able to undercut the second place Scuderia Praha Ferrari after an early stop for a new set of tyres and a full tank of fuel. As the pit stops played out, the Leipert crew even enjoyed a period in the overall lead but they were unable to hold on in a tight battle to the flag and crossed the line in third.
Leitch, who is backed in the 24 Hour series by Auckland Lamborghini and long-time backers Dayle ITM, was delighted with the result. “We had an awesome race actually and were able to drive the car hard throughout both parts of the race. We were in contention throughout and the team did a great job. I’m positive we’ll be even stronger next time out as we figure everything out and how to optimise what we have in terms of a competitive car and a strong driving team. I can’t wait, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The 24 Hour Series is an 11 round endurance championship for sports car racing and touring car racing series developed by Creventic and with approval from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). It features GT3-spec cars, GT4-spec cars, sports cars, touring cars and 24H-Specials, like silhouette cars.
Leitch and his team will be in action at the next round of the series at the Portimao circuit in Portugal in July.
Hankook 12 Hour – Hockenheim – Top 3 Overall
1/ Haegeli by T2 Racing Porsche 911 – Decurtins/Lauck/Basseng
2/ Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 – Výboh/Král/Was
3/ Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán – Leitch/Cooke/Leib/Morris