After one round Brendon Leitch and Christina Orr-West sit third in the Carters Tyres South Island Endurance Series three-hour standings, behind Jonny Reid and Neil Foster’s Audi R8 and leaders Alex Riberas and Darren Kelly in their Aston Martin Vantage.
The trio will also have a few new entrants to contend with this weekend, in the form of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Dwayne Carter and Greg Murphy, plus Golden Homes North Island Endurance Series round one winner Glenn Smith and returning co-driver John De Veth in their McLaren 650S and a second International Motorsport Audi R8 driven by Sam Fillmore and Andrew Fawcett.
Last month’s series opener at Teretonga in Invercargill saw the Dayle ITM Audi pairing hang with the leaders initially only to trail off as the race wore on with minor gremlins costing them time. The hope is that at round two of the series, held this weekend at Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Christchurch, they will be able to better challenge the lead pack.
“I haven’t had an amazing run there in years past,” said Leitch. “But the notable exception and the weekend that proved to myself I can go very well at the track was 2016 in the Toyota Racing Seres when I was running second behind Lando Norris in the Lady Wigram Trophy race on slicks in the rain.
“A few cars pitted for wets and then came through and snatched it away from us but I was well in the groove that weekend qualifying third and fourth as well as going well in the changeable conditions. I’m getting more confidence with the Audi every lap, so I will be pushing hard this weekend to extract the maximum from myself and the car.”
For Orr-West, meanwhile, the Christchurch event signifies the anniversary of a difficult run at the same venue last year with Ben Byers while driving the same Audi.
“Last year race was one to remember for so many reasons,” she explained. “From the car being damaged when Ben had contact with another car to our car having gearbox issues and then stopping in the middle of the race being towed back in eight laps down with a throttle issue that carried on for the remainder of the race and made driving extremely challenging.
“It was damage limitation as far as I was concerned getting the car back into the top ten and getting third overall in last season’s series. Problem free and with myself and Brendon on driving duties, we’ve got to be optimistic we’ll be strong throughout the whole three hours and if everything comes together, I reckon we’ll be right there.”
Q1 for the three-hour enduro kicks off at 9.00am, with Q2 following at 10.20am. The race proper is scheduled for a 1.15pm start.