It was a weekend that epitomised the entire season for Brendon Leitch.
The final round of the 2017 Castrol Toyota Racing Series at the 3.03 kilometre Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in Feilding this weekend was another incredibly tough one for Leitch, originally from Invercargill but now based in Cromwell.
Photo: Bruce Jenkins Photography
In the opening race of the round on Saturday afternoon Leitch was involved in a big accident when the duo ahead of him, Australian Luis Leeds and Keyvan Andres of the United States, tangled in front of him. Left with nowhere to go his ITM FT-50 was launched into the air, completing three barrel rolls, fortunately without injury to its driver.
The race was stopped and Brendon watched much of the remainder from the pit wall as Pedro Piquet of Brazil won the race. “Wrong place, wrong time,” was Brendon’s assessment of the accident – one which he could do nothing to avoid and one in which he said that he “had seen the sky twice” as the car pitched and rolled.
The Victory Motor Racing Team repaired the car and Brendon was back for Sunday’s races, admitting to being, “a bit sore”. Leitch was left to line up at the back of the twenty car field for Sunday morning’s race due to not finishing the previous day’s race. In an incident packed race he produced a storming drive to blitz his way through the field. He dispensed with four cars on the first lap and finished eighth, right on the tail of Indian driver Jehan Daruvala, a drive that showed his pace and class. Richard Verschoor of the Netherlands won the race setting up a grandstand finish to the series.
Brendon updated his fan with a video on his Facebook page after the accident on Saturday.
Leitch lined up seventh on the grid for the 62 nd running of the New Zealand Grand Prix over 35 laps later on Sunday afternoon and made his way into sixth as the laps wound down in the country’s most important domestic motor race. However with just three laps to go the ITM FT-50 slowed dramatically and pulled off the circuit, the result of a shorn stud on the left rear wheel. The race was won by Daruvala while Brendon’s Victory Motor Racing team mate, Thomas Randle of Australia, took out the series.
After a problem plagued series Leitch finished ninth in the point standings.
“This weekend sums up my series,” said Leitch. “However it taught me a lot. I think I’m driving better. This year’s series has been so competitive. It has been great having Thomas Randle as a team mate, pushing me along.”