Invercargill driver Brendon Leitch took his debut Toyota Racing Series win at Teretonga Park this weekend and he could not have done it at a better time. In front of his home crowd and in the feature race of the round, the Spirit Of A Nation Cup race, the 19-year-old Southlander led from start to finish in his ITM/Post Haste Couriers car to become the first Southlander to etch his name on the trophy.
Leitch showed great pace all weekend in the field of young stars and qualified fastest to gain pole for the feature. When the lights went out to start the race he held his line into the fast, first corner and held out American Santino Ferrucci to lead from start to finish. Ferrucci piled on the pressure until he briefly ran off the circuit around the mid point of the race leaving Leitch with a buffer which he carried to the finish.
It was the career highlight for Leitch in just his second season at this level. On Saturday he had finished fourth in the opening race of the round while in the second race of the weekend on Sunday morning he crossed the line third only to be given a time penalty for jumping the start which dropped him to fifth. However his results see him placed third in the championship after two rounds.
"It couldn't have been better," said Leitch of his weekend. Recounting the feature race he said, "I just held my line into the first corner and even though he (Ferrucci) was edging ahead I knew it was my corner. After that I relaxed and concentrated on every apex and every gearchange." Looking ahead Brendon says he will be on the startline next weekend at Hampton Downs as he chases sponsorship to finish the series. "I am still short but I am on my way there."
While Brendon was enjoying his best weekend in the series older brother Damon was enduring one of his worst.
Damon struggled in testing on Thursday and Friday with the same gearbox issues that plagued him at the opening round a week ago. Consequently with little track time the Post Haste Couriers/Zero Fees car was not handling well either. Leitch, normally a real contender, qualified down the order and battled his way to eighth place in race one as he struggled with the issues.
From eighth on grid for Sunday morning's race he brought the car home ninth but was again well down the grid for the Spirit Of A Nation Trophy race, eventually finishing thirteenth.
Both brothers drive for the Nelson based Victory Motor Racing team in the series. Support for Damon's efforts come from Post Haste Couriers, Zero Fees and Bowater Toyota while Brendon carries support from ITM and Post Haste Couriers but is still short of the full budget to complete the entire championship.
The series now travels to Hampton Downs in North Waikato next weekend.