Brendon Leitch of Invercargill has finished third overall in the provisional final points of the 2016 Toyota Racing Series. A sensational win in the Sunday morning race of this weekend’s final round at Manfeild Park in Feilding propelled Leitch into third in the series points and confirmed his standing as the top kiwi.
The race win was the big highlight of the weekend for the young driver while finishing in the top three in the series against top class, race hardened opposition is an outstanding result for a driver who has had just one race outing since last year’s series. The race win was the only one for a kiwi in this year’s series and is the second for Leitch since joining the category.
“I’m pumped, and very happy overall, I’ve got a lot to take away from this year’s series,” said Leitch as the achievement was still sinking in moments after the final race.
Leitch overcame his toughest qualifying sessions of the series to score his Manfeild results after he was outside the top ten times in both. However he overcame that disadvantage in the best possible way by slicing through the field in his ITM FT-50 in an impressive drive to finish fifth in Saturday afternoon’s Dan Higgins Trophy Race over 20 laps. Ferdinand Habsburg of Austria won the race from James Munro of Christchurch and Lando Norris of the UK.
The marble draw for Sunday morning’s race saw Brendon gain fourth place on the grid and he made the most of it. He was into second place by the first corner and after passing Polish driver Antoni Ptak at the final corner of the first lap he went on to win his first race of this year’s series after coming so close in a controversial race at Taupo last weekend. Jehan Daruvala of India was second, Ptak third and Norris fourth, giving the UK driver the championship. The victory gave also lifted Leitch to third in the points with just the final race, the 61st New Zealand Grand Prix to go.
Leitch again had to overcome a lowly grid position in the Grand Prix. He fought his way through the field only to be taken off the track by another car, losing several positions. Again he climbed back through the field, crossing the line eleventh which was revised to tenth after Pedro Piquet was penalised for a late race indiscretion. Norris won the Grand Prix from Russian Artem Markelov and Habsburg.