One that got away for Brendon Leitch

| Photographer Credit: Bruce Jenkins

Brendon Leitch of Invercargill has grabbed another good points haul from this weekend’s round of the 2016 Toyota Racing Series at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park at Taupo despite missing out on a race win that looked to be his.

The 20-year-old started Sunday morning’s race from the front row of the grid in his ITM FT-50 alongside Canadian Devlin DeFrancesco and made a blinder of a start to take the lead and build a solid 4 second lead over Ferrari Academy Driver Guanyu Zhou and the rest of the field only to have it erased when Brazilian Rodrigo Baptista spun. At the restart Leitch was shuffled back to fourth in a chaotic start. Leitch said after the race “the green flag was shown but not waved to restart the race.”

While Leitch hesitated the rest of the field went for it, leaving him in fourth place before two separate incidents brought the race to a premature end a lap early, leaving Leitch fourth in a race won by Force India Academy protege Jehan Daruvala. Leitch was disappointed but philosophical. “It comes down to interpretation. It cost us the win but we had awesome speed and showed we can do the business with the internationals.”

However the fourth place combined with his other weekend results of a seventh place on Saturday afternoon and a fifth place in the feature race, the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy Race, leave Leitch fifth in the points with one round remaining.

After setting the eighth fastest time in both qualifying sessions used to determine the grid for the first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon and the feature race, Leitch had a fantastic battle with Daruvala and Ferdinand Habsburg of Austria in the opening race on Saturday, dicing wheel to wheel with the duo to cross the line in seventh place with UK driver Lando Norris taking the win.

After his eventful race on Sunday morning he made another excellent start in the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy race on Sunday afternoon, scorching from eighth on the grid to be third after an incident which saw two cars off at the first corner of the race. There were several more incidents with safety car periods and a red flag stoppage, Brendon eventually settling into fourth on old tyres before Habsburg passed him leaving him fifth at the chequered flag in a race again won by championship leader Norris.

Despite the disappointment of losing out on Sunday morning Leitch was happy with a “good handful of points from the round. We had awesome speed this morning and used older tyres in the feature race and we now look forward to Manfeild next weekend.”

The final round at Manfeild Park, Feilding next weekend features the New Zealand Grand Prix.

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