Kiwi Brendon Leitch has been busy this year, racing for Leipert Motorsport in the Le Mans Cup, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe, the Asian Le Mans Series, and in select endurance races.
While his performances in all series impressed, in Super Trofeo, he stood head and shoulders above the rest, overcoming intense competition from world-renowned drivers and large fields that average over 40 entries in size to take overall championship victory.
Entering as a solo competitor in the Pro class, Leitch’s mandatory pit stops were required to be three seconds longer than those of his closest rivals. Despite this, he finished on the podium nine times in 12 races, including two wins.
His first podiums came in the opening round at Circuit Paul Ricard in France, announcing himself as a championship contender with two third-place results. The latter came in dramatic circumstances, with a crash ahead on the penultimate lap seeing Leitch cautiously avoid trouble and jump from sixth to third in one swoop.
The Dayle ITM-backed driver then finished second in the opening race of Round 2 at Spa-Francorchamps, charging forward from the fourth row of the grid amongst a 48-car field.
He would also finish second the next day. However, this result was decided based on his qualifying effort, as poor weather saw just 25 minutes of track action spent entirely behind the Safety Car.
Despite this, he left the round with a 0.5-point championship lead.
Form was on Leitch’s side entering Round 3 at Nurburgring, and it was clear his maiden victory was imminent. That came in the second race, a charging drive from fifth on the grid to come home 1.5 seconds ahead of the field. He also finished second in the opener, having started seventh, and left the round with a 12-point championship lead.
The then-27-year-old’s second victory followed his very next outing at Valencia and was backed up with a fourth in Race 2, having started from the front row at both.
Imola had been scheduled as one of the earlier rounds for the season but was cancelled due to a delay in venue improvements ahead of Formula 1 visiting the circuit. This saw the final two rounds of Super Trofeo Europe run at Vallelunga over consecutive weeks, with the World Finals at the same venue immediately after the last event.
Leitch’s 12.5-point advantage was reduced to 2.5 in the opening race of Round 5 as title rivals Mattia Michelotto and Gilles Stadsbader took the win, while the Kiwi could only manage seventh after taking contact and sustaining damage through no fault of his own. A spin in the wet further compounded matters but he would recover from 21st to salvage points.
He was immediately back on the podium in Race 2, in second and one place ahead of Michelotto and Stadsbader, taking a 2.5-point advantage into the final round just days later.
Michelotto and Stadsbader’s victory in the opening race of the season finale swung the pendulum in their favour, taking the championship lead by 0.5 points ahead of the finale and setting up a winner-take-all showdown for honours.
It was Leitch who remained the most composed, overcoming a stubborn blocking effort from Loris Spinelli, the teammate of the championship leaders who was competing in a different class, preventing the Kiwi from pulling away from Stadsbader, who had started further back but making up steady ground.
The pit window proved his saving grace, breaking the train and seeing Leitch slot into third and Michelotto fifth but with a 5-second penalty for causing a collision. A Safety Car intervention put the championship leaders behind the Kiwi, and they would find a way past after several attempts.
Michelotto crossed the line second, ahead of Leitch, but dropped out of the points from two penalties applied post-race. Leitch was also dropped a spot but remained classified third to seal the title.
“It’s my first championship. I’m so thrilled with that,” said Leitch after the race.
“It’s mega and such a good title to have after a roller-coaster ride it has been all season. Being consistent has been the key to winning, and I just can’t thank my Leipert Motorsport team enough for giving me an amazing car, and to all my supporters, Dayle ITM and family, this is for you.”
Leitch would also feature on the podium in Race 2 of the World Finals, going up against Pro competitors from Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe, Asia and America.
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