Invercargill driver Brendon Leitch has made a good start to the 2016 Toyota Racing Series at Mike Pero Motorsport Park at Ruapuna in Christchurch this weekend.
Conditions were difficult with mixed weather throughout the weekend but Leitch qualified fourth and fifth in the two qualifying sessions held in wet but drying conditions on Saturday morning as he mixed it with international stars such as former World Karting Champion Lando Norris of the UK, Ferdinand Habsburg of Austria, Ferrari Academy driver Guanyu Zhou of China and Brazilian Pedro Piquet, son of three-time World Champion Nelson Piquet.
In the first race of the series on Saturday afternoon Leitch brought the ITM Tatuus home in fifth place for a good start to the series in a race won by Habsburg.
Sunday morning’s race saw the Southlander running third in the early stages until he was hit from behind and sent off the track in the wet conditions. He dropped to fifteenth in the order but had worked his way back to ninth by the chequered flag as Norris took the victory. The third and final race was the feature race of the weekend, the Lady Wigram Trophy Race, and again conditions were wet although most opted for slick tyres.
From fifth on the grid Leitch quickly settled into third for the bulk of the race. The track became extremely wet and after a safety car period Leitch pitted for wets, eventually bringing the ITM Tatuus home in sixth place in a race won by Force India Academy driver Jehan Daruvula of India.
Leitch was more than happy at the end of the weekend. “The car went well and we made progress all weekend. The car was really good in the wet too. Conditions were pretty difficult and we set out to bring the car home in one piece and rack up some points which we have done!”
Leitch is sixth in the points after Round 1. The series now moves to Brendon’s home circuit, Teretonga Park Invercargill, scene of his victory in the Southland NZ Spirit Of A Nation Cup feature race last year.