Invercargill driver Brendon Leitch put in another stellar performance in the 2016 Toyota Racing Series at Teretonga Park in Invercargill this weekend. Leitch finished second overall for the round and is now fourth in the series and just three points behind Ferdinand Habsburg of Austria in third place.
The 20-year-old Invercargill driver qualified his ITM Tatuus a fine fourth in both qualifying sessions on Saturday morning. The sessions decide starting positions for races one and three over the weekend. After the session the young Southlander admitted it had been difficult to piece a fast lap together but he was fairly happy with fourth.
Leitch improved immediately when the lights went green on the first race on Saturday afternoon, quickly settling into third behind Indian driver Jehan Daruvala and former World Karting Champion Lando Norris of the UK. Leitch maintained third place through several safety car interventions and red flag stoppages only to be pushed out, losing two positions in the final restart dropping him to fifth place at the chequered flag. Daruvala won the race from Norris.
Brendon’s luck did not improve when the marble draw for the partial reverse grid was made for Sunday morning’s race. The winner of race one selects a marble and the front of the grid is reversed from the corresponding number that gets drawn. Daruvala drew marble number four, leaving Brendon to start Sunday morning’s race from fifth position.
On Sunday morning Leitch made a great start from fifth on the grid and was quickly into third place. However with the outer limits of the track still slippery from overnight rain Leitch ran wide exiting the fast loop, very skilfully keeping the ITM Tatuus off the walls. He lost one position as Russian GP2 star Artem Markelov slipped by but Leitch continued on to the finish in fourth ahead of two Formula 1 academy proteges, Daruvala and Guanyu Zhou. Brazilian Pedro Piquet won the race from Norris.
Leitch went into Sunday afternoon’s Spirit Of A Nation Trophy race as the defending champion and made a great start from fourth on the grid, emerging from a chaotic first lap in second place. He chased Lando Norris of the UK for the entire journey but couldn’t head off the talented youngster. However second place was a stunning result from a driver who only races in this series each year against race hardened opposition from around the world. The three results gave Leitch an impressive second overall behind Norris and leave him fourth in the championship.
The series continues next weekend at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in North Waikato.