LOCAL driver Brendon Leitch will head to the second round of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Teretonga Park this weekend determined to put a frustrating opening round at Ruapuna behind him.
“I’ve got to be as consistent as possible,” Leitch said after finishing fourth in the Lady Wigram Trophy race, the one good result he had at Ruapuna, near Christchurch, all weekend.
“We had a lot of pace and I’m happy with fourth after what happened earlier,” Leitch said.
In the morning’s preliminary race, Leitch ran wide exiting the track’s fastest corner and damaged his car’s left rear suspension. At the time he was seventh after starting 12th, his finishing place in Saturday afternoon’s first race when the car’s suspension and aerodynamic set up did not work.
Leitch slowed and dropped back through the field with the damaged suspension in an effort to finish and collect some points in the five-round championship. But the damage was too great and he was forced to end his race in the pits.
“The boys from Victory Motorsport did a great job fixing everything for the main race,” Leitch said.
He started from sixth on the grid and immediately grabbed fifth place, beginning a race-long battle with English teenager James Pull, the runner-up in last year’s British Formula Three championship.
Leitch got alongside the Londoner on several occasions, but couldn’t quite finish the overtaking manoeuvre.
Their duel became a battle for the final podium place when Dutch driver Richard Verschoor, who won at Teretonga 12 months ago, retired with a combination of a puncture and front suspension damage while his car was lying second.
Leitch will arrive at Teretonga confident he can match the front-runners. He won the main race three years ago and qualified on the front row last summer, only to have a high-speed crash at the start of Sunday morning’s race. While most of the damage was repaired for the afternoon race, he had to struggle with some car compromises and could not show his true speed.
“I made my fair share of mistakes at Ruapuna,” Leitch said. “Now I’ve just got to be as consistent as possible. I know I’ve got the speed, especially at my home track.”
He arrives in his home town 12th on the points table, which is led by Christchurch’s Marcus Armstrong, who had two wins on his home track. Russian 18-year-old Robert Shwartzman is second, 16 points behind, while Verschoor, who finished third overall last year, is 68 points behind.