Leitch gets on the F4 board

By Catherine Pattison on Sun, 16 Jul 2017 | Motorsport
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Kiwi circuit racer Brendon Leitch competes in the third round of the FIA Formula 4 USA Championship at the Mosport circuit in Canada. PHOTO: FORMULA 4 USA

Cromwell-based Brendon Leitch got his first points and had the satisfaction of completing three races with a fast consistent car last weekend at the Mosport circuit in Ontario, Canada.

He was competing in the third round of the FIA Formula 4 USA Championship and after getting to grips with his F4 car in the first two rounds, Leitch netted a sixth overall and his first points in the championship in the weekend's opening race.

Although it was blighted by yellow flags and safety cars, making it ‘‘ hard work'' for Leitch, the 22-year-old said the car ‘‘felt the best it has so far this season'' during the first race, which had 29 cars on the grid.

‘‘As the race went on I found I had good car speed as part of a pretty epic six-car battle for the lead. Then, unfortunately, the safety car came out and ruined that, closing up the whole field. On the restart, I passed a car into fifth place and then as the other cars with new tyres got going they started to gap me for the last lap and I was passed by one car,'' he said.

The Invercargill-born driver, who works as a mechanic and hot-lap driver at Highlands Motorsport Park, started off in P10 in race two last Sunday, making the most of fresh tyres to move up to P6 at the finish.

‘‘There were more ‘green' laps this time and the finish was a great improvement. The car felt good, very consistent, and the tyres were strong right through,'' Leitch said.

In the third and final race, he was penalised for making contact with another car during race two and pushed back 10 grid positions, forcing him to start from near mid-pack (P14).

‘‘I got a good start and moved forward a few spots. Really struggling in traffic. The car was really good but lacked straight-line speed. I was trying everything I could, but unfortunately I started to fall back through the field as the cars ahead held me up in parts of the circuit where I could have made some gains.''
Leitch said that made the third race frustrating.

‘‘I was on the defensive all the time. I could sit in the draft but couldn't use that advantage to get out and pass.''

His team, Kiwi Motorsport, added a second car at this round, enabling Leitch and teammate Dakota Dickerson to compare data and technique at the very fast 4.08km circuit.

‘‘We've made massive progress, and it's beginning to show in results. This year Formula 4 is so much more competitive than 2016. The grid is enormous and everyone's looking to make a name for themselves,'' Leitch said.

The next round of the championship brings the drivers back to the US to race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on August 10-12.