Saturday, Jan 12 04:56pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Brendon Leitch scores front row start: "I’m hungrier than ever"

Brendon Leitch will be buoyed going into race two of the Toyota Racing Series season after a mega start at Highlands Motorsport Park.


Leitch launched from sixth to fourth off the line in the weekend’s opening race but dropped back after a run wide out of the Turn 14 hairpin. He eventually finished fifth.


“It was a good race,” Leitch told


“I got a magic start but made a little bit of an error on the first lap and lost a position and got swamped a bit and dropped to seventh.


“From there I just cleared my head, got back into a rhythm and started to charge on. I passed one car and then remembered how to race these things having been out of one for a year.


“We just charged on and managed to get past another car and set the third fastest lap of the race.”


While Leitch was quick, pole sitter Raoul Hyman struggled to get off the line. That’ll give the Kiwi some confidence when he starts alongside him in the second race of the weekend on Sunday.


The race two grid gets decided on a reverse grid marble draw. Either the top six or top eight drivers are reversed, fortunately a top six was drawn. Having finished the first race in fifth, Leitch will start race two of the weekend from second.


The Invercargill-born driver came into Saturday morning’s qualifying with a load of confidence, but he couldn’t translate his practice pace into a much-desired pole position.


With another shot at qualifying to set the grid for race three, Leitch goes into the final day of the weekend with a fresh opportunity.


“I’m happy with the speed of the car. It’s feeling a lot better than what it was this morning,” he said.


“I think there’s a good opportunity we can put it somewhere up the front tomorrow morning. I was quite confident this morning, but a couple of things weren’t really going my way, which was okay. I’m feeling hungrier than ever.


“It gives you an opportunity. If you didn’t have a good Saturday, then you can wake up in the morning and it’s a brand new weekend in some ways. It’s another opportunity to do well and qualify high.


“Marcus [Armstrong] is going to be very fast, Lucas [Auer] and Liam [Lawson] as well. We’ll see. I’m hoping to put the thing on the front row in the morning. The data shows that we can do it, there’s no reason why I can’t.”


Leitch worked at Highlands for several years as a driver coach. He undoubtedly has completed the most laps of anyone at the circuit, but that comes with an asterisk.


“It was a little bit tricky. I’ve never really driven around this track, maybe two or three race meetings, where I’ve got to drive a car at 10 tenths.


“When you’re driving a customers’ car, you’re never really driving it on the limit. It took a little bit of time to get up to speed.


“Obviously, I know where all the turns are, all the bumps are and where the good passing opportunities are, but it still doesn’t help you go any quicker. It’s an incredible track to drive and in these cars its full commitment required.”


The Toyota Racing Series will qualify tomorrow morning, which will be followed by race two and three later on in the day. Rain is on the forecast for the day, which may throw a spanner in the works.