Brendon Leitch a real factor for NZGP honours
Invercargill’s Brendon Leitch will take the wheel of a Castrol Toyota Racing Series car one more time when he steps aboard to try and add his name to the New Zealand Grand Prix Trophy later this month.
Twenty-five year old Leitch is the most experienced TRS racer in the world having competed in TRS championships in the first generation FT40 car and the more recent FT50. He has also tested the current FT60 car and has extensive experience in the Tatuus chassis having raced last season in the Asia Formula Three Championship, a category that utilises the same chassis, albeit on different tyres. Leitch also has extensive GT expertise and is a former Lamborghini Junior Driver.
Post-lockdown in New Zealand Brendon also renewed his driving partnership with Christina Orr-West as the pair took on more contemporary GT machinery in their Dayle ITM Racing Audi R8 LMS on their way to podium finishes in the 2020 South Island Endurance Series.
A veteran of New Zealand Grand Prix competition and vastly experienced around the Hampton Downs circuit, Leitch is confident he can be a factor when he and the rest of the talent-packed field take to the North Waikato track for first practice on Friday January 22nd.
“It’s been disappointing to effectively say goodbye to my international drives because of the pandemic and the associated international travel problems that come with a situation like that,” he explained.
“Dayle ITM has long been my major backer and the opportunity has come up to do the Grand Prix one more time, this time in the current car but with the familiar yellow backing and I’m looking forward to flying the flag and racing in TRS once again.
“There’s absolutely no reason why we cannot be competitive from the first session of the event. I have a good idea of where we need to go with set up of the car and what needs to be done in the limited time we will have to get the cars dialled in before the Grand Prix itself. There are some massive names competing and it will be cool to be part of it.”
Shane van Gisbergen, Greg Murphy, Daniel Gaunt, Chris van der Drift and up and coming stars Billy Frazer, Kaleb Ngatoa and Matthew Payne are amongst those set to take the start on the long circuit at Hampton Downs, as well as the iconic Kenny Smith who will make an unprecedented 50th start in the 66th running of the event.
Billed this year as the Race of Champions, the 2021 New Zealand Grand Prix could be one of the biggest for major names since Bruce McLaren himself was behind the wheel.
The MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned event doubles as the opening round of the championship. A joint venture by Hampton Downs and Speed Works Events, it will run over the weekend of January 22nd-24th with practice, qualifying and two races for drivers before the New Zealand Grand Prix itself on Sunday 24th over 28 laps of the circuit.
A legendary list of previous winners includes Stirling Moss, Prince Bira, Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and legendary Kiwi racers Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon. More recently, it has been won by current F1 drivers Lando Norris and Lance Stroll. It will be the first time the Grand Prix has been held at the North Waikato circuit and the first time any Castrol Toyota Racing Series event has been held on the longer and more challenging 4km international format track which has ten corners and a current lap record of 1 minute 27.637 seconds.