Kiwi racer Brendon Leitch reckons he made some big steps forward in Japan over the weekend, despite doing double duty in Asian F3 and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia.
The Invercargill driver came close to winning his first race in the highly competitive Asian F3 championship’s second round at the iconic Suzuka circuit and bagged a class win and third overall in the Lamborghini series alongside a new co-driver Massimo Vignali. It was a busy weekend for the 23-year old Dayle ITM and Auckland Lamborghini supported driver, with qualifying and three races in the Asian F3 series and qualifying, two races and a new co-driver in the Lamborghini championship.
Starting tenth in the first F3 race of the weekend, Leitch worked his way through to an impressive fifth place, giving himself a good starting spot for the second encounter. An engine oil pressure issue in the second race, however, forced him to retire. It all came good in the third and final F3 race of the weekend with Leitch storming through the field from tenth on the grid to second overall behind eventual winner Jack Doohan from Australia, finishing just five seconds behind after a dramatic race.
“There’s still a bit of work to do to make sure I’m getting the most out of myself and the car in qualifying in the Formula 3 car, but I am very happy with the race pace and race strategy,” he said. “We were close to getting a win and had I started further up than tenth in the final race, a win was definitely on. The pace is there and I’ve got to piece together the full weekend now, but we’re getting close.”
Racing in the Pro-Am class of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia with a new team mate – Massimo Vignali – Leitch was immediately on the pace and in the thick of the action at the front of the field qualifying in third. The race didn’t go quite as well, however, though Leitch and Vignali managed to come home sixth overall and third in the Pro-Am class in what was Leitch’s second podium of the season and Vignali’s first on debut. The duo improved further in the second race, finishing a strong third overall and taking a comfortable class win in Pro-Am.
“I think understanding how to get pace out of the Lamborghini was the biggest single step forward I made in Suzuka,” explained the Lamborghini Factory Junior. I was impressed with Massimo too. In the final race he bettered his qualifying time by three seconds which is a big effort. I’m going to be teamed up with him for the remainder of the season, so am pretty confident we are going to be very strong from the next round onwards.
“We’ve got great pace and can be confident we’ll be in the mix for good results in the Pro Am class and overall.”
Leitch won’t have to wait too long before getting back into the spectacular Lamborghini Huracán for the third round of the championship – that takes place at the legendary Fuji Speedway over the weekend of July 7th and 8th. There’s a longer wait before he can get back in the single seater, though. A three month break for the Asian F3 championship sees it reconvene for the fourth round at Shanghai in China over the weekend of September 7th and 8th.