Invercargill’s Brendon Leitch is drawing confidence from his position as the top-placed New Zealander on the Toyota Racing Series points’ table going into this weekend’s third round at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park.
“Things are going very consistently and very well this season,” says the 20-year-old who is one of only three New Zealanders contesting the top ‘wings and slicks’ racing series in the country and currently holds fourth position on the leader-board after the two South Island rounds.
“There have been a few little errors which come down to a lack of seat time compared to the other front-runners, but with each round, things get better,” Leitch says after testing at Hampton Downs on Thursday for the weekend’s racing.
This season, Leitch is up against a world karting champion, a Ferrari Driver Academy protégé, a member of the Chip Ganassi Racing talent identification programme in North America, and a Force India Academy young driver. Understandably, the young Kiwi is excited to be mixing it with the frontrunners.
“We were p4 in testing today. The car’s good even though we’re on much older tyres than most of the others. We’re aiming for a podium finish for the weekend.
“From last year to this year, the top three or four guys are that much faster this year, so it’s very encouraging to be up amongst the leaders.”
Like many young New Zealand motorsport competitors, Leitch works just as hard finding the budget to race as he does on his race craft.
“ITM has been a significant sponsor of mine for some time and again this year, I’m very appreciative of the support of Invercargill ITM, Southern Lakes ITM in Cromwell and Dayle ITM in Auckland. They’ve made a big difference to what I’m able to plan for and achieve this season.”
Deborah and Martin Day, directors of Dayle ITM in Avondale, Auckland, identified Leitch as a young talent they wanted to support two years ago.
“Having top running New Zealanders in the international Toyota Racing Series is vital for the series in terms of its profile and position as our premier single seater championship and in creating that aspiration for our young drivers to take on the best from around the world during the short, intense TRS season,” says Deborah Day. “Brendon has shown he can mix it with the best. We’re looking forward to seeing him consolidate on his South Island successes at the first of the three North Island rounds at Hampton Downs this weekend.”
This is the third year that Leitch has contested the Toyota Racing Series. In the 2015 championship he became the first Kiwi in years to win his home event’s feature race for the Spirit of a Nation Cup.
The five round Toyota Racing Series started on 16 January in Christchurch and concludes at Manfeild with the New Zealand Grand Prix on 14 February.