Returning Toyota Racing Series ace Brendon Leitch is keen to make an impression alongside the visiting A-list racers competing in next weekend’s New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs.
The event has attracted the likes of Shane van Gisbergen, Chris van der Drift, Daniel Gaunt, Andre Heimgartner, and Greg Murphy. Speaking following his first shakedown at Hampton Downs earlier this week, Leitch reflected on a positive test before specifically naming defending Bathurst 1000 winner van Gisbergen as his weekend target.
“The test went well and I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “The Hankook tyres are better overall than the Giti tyres I used in the Asian series and that alone gives me a good idea of where the car will be strong over what is a long race in 28 laps of Hampton Downs international track.
“I have a good idea of where I will go on set up based on the long circuit being slightly different in emphasis than the shorter track but I’ll be keeping those ideas to myself as long as I can, even though we all share data in the interests of a close race.
“I’m pretty excited to be racing in the Grand Prix with the names lining up. I’ve always got on well with Shane [van Gisbergen] but I’d love to beat him as well as the others. There’s some major names in the field and one of us is going to walk away with a hat full of awesome racing scalps and ultimate bragging rights.”
So far 11 drivers have been confirmed for the event, with the Toyota Racing Series being hurt for 2021 by the Covid-19 pandemic’s travel restrictions. But, the series has said that more driver announcements are on the way in the coming days.
“It’s an impressive grid and all the more so because Kenny’s on it making such a significant start,” Leitch added, noting local legend Kenny Smith — who’s making his 50th NZGP start. “I’m delighted to be part of it and I hope the fans come out to support it. It really is unique and a one-off.”