Leitch confident given knowledge of car, circuits

Brendon Leitch, of Invercargill, practises for the opening round of the Toyota Racing Series, at...
Brendon Leitch, of Invercargill, practises for the opening round of the Toyota Racing Series, at Highlands Motorsport Park, in the Toyota-powered Tatuus FT-50 single seater that all the drivers will pilot. Photo: Geoff Ridder
Invercargill's Brendon Leitch is returning for his sixth tilt at the Toyota Racing Series which will open its five-round season at Highlands Motorsport Park in Otago this weekend.

A springboard that has launched several Formula One drivers in the past — along with a multitude of successful New Zealand racers — the TRS is the biggest domestic single-seater series in New Zealand, making it a hotly-contested title. Joining Leitch (23) on the grid will be up to 19 other high-quality drivers from all over the world. They represent the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Australia, Japan, Great Britain and Austria.

Brendon Leitch
Brendon Leitch
The two other Kiwis competing are Liam Lawson, of Pukekohe, and Christchurch’s Marcus Armstrong and both are fresh from international driving stints last year.

In Leitch’s favour is that he knows the Highlands circuit at Cromwell intimately, having completed an estimated 10,000 laps around it in his role as Highlands’ resident track driver over the past few years.

Leitch won races in the TRS last season and finished third in the title race in 2016 and as well as  competing in the 2018 championship, he also finished second in New Zealand’s North Island Endurance Championship driving a Mercedes SLS AMG GT3. His TRS car will be backed by long-time sponsor Dayle ITM and will be run by Nelson-based team Victory Motor Racing.

Having helped Toyota shake down its cars in recent years, Leitch will start the campaign as easily the most experienced driver in the new-generation, identical, Toyota-powered Tatuus FT-50 chassis that is used by all teams in the series.

"It’s shaping up to be a fantastic championship this coming season with some great drivers from junior formulae around the world. And they’re some of the best too, who all have aspirations like myself to be racing in some of the top classes of motorsport in the world.

"I know the car and I know the team, and I also know the circuits probably better than most, so there is every opportunity to go well this season," Leitch said.

Also racing this weekend are the BNT V8s, the South Island Porsche Championship, the Toyota 86 Championship,  V8 Utes, the Open Sports Car Association series,  Pro 7 Mazda Racing and the Rush hour clash — a one-hour tactical and handicapped endurance race.

Racing begins at 8.30am today and 9.30am tomorrow.

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