Damon Leitch considers his record-breaking lap in the third round of the South Island Endurance Series at Teretonga as the highlight of his brief season.
The super-sub was recruited to drive the SBT Motorsport McLaren 650S GT3 with Glenn Smith for the last three rounds of the series.
Leitch was the fourth different co-driver announced to drive with Smith in the three-hour championship.
First, regular co-driver John De Veth withdrew before the first race to recover from a knee joint infection.
Nick Chester was then ruled out to replace De Veth because border restrictions kept him trapped in Auckland.
Glen Chappel was drafted in for the opening race at Highlands before Leitch joined the party.
After retiring due to damage in their first race together at Levels Raceway, Leitch and Smith came away with a pair of wins in the final two rounds.
The first of those was at a wet Teretonga, where Leitch capitalised on some fresh rubber and a dry line to reset the circuit’s three-hour lap record, stopping the clock at 54.814s.
“There are a couple of favourite moments for me but getting the lap record at my home track was pretty cool,” Leitch said.
“Getting it at the place where I first started car racing was a nice bonus.”
Leitch then overcame a thirty-plus second deficit in the final race at Ruapuna to cap off his season with another win.
He hunted down and overtook Tom Alexander, which is no easy feat, for the lead with a few laps in hand.
“The race at Ruapuna against Tom was a lot of fun.”
Essentially Leitch’s boss for the series, Smith was happy to let his star co-driver do his own thing in the car.
“[Smith] didn’t tell me too much before,” Leitch said. “He was kind of like ‘jump in and see how it feels.’
“And it’s a nice car to drive. It didn’t take very long to get comfortable.
“I’d done a few rounds with Tony Quinn in an Aston Martin Vantage but hadn’t raced [a GT3] for a couple of years.
“It was cool to drive something different. And it was great to work with Glenn; very enjoyable.”
Smith singlehandedly finished third in the overall three-hour championship.
Leitch doesn’t have any firm plans for racing anytime soon, but he hopes to continue doing exciting things when opportunities pop up.
Main Image: Terry Marshall/Euan Cameron Photography