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Motorsport: Leitch brothers excel in tintop debut

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Southland brothers Damon and Brendon Leitch of Invercargill excelled in their appearance in the Highlands 101 endurance race at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell recently.

Making their debut in a "tintop" racing car after a career in open wheel machinery the brothers qualified eighth fastest in a field of forty cars including many of the stars of the Australian GT Championship in their first drive of the ITM Aston Martin DBRS9.

After their impressive qualifying performance the brothers lined up for the Le Mans type start, Brendon the chosen one to run to the car while Damon was scheduled to drive the first stint. Brendon passed four drivers in the Le Mans type sprint to the car sending Damon off to begin the race in fourth place. Damon did the first 20 laps before handing over to younger brother Brendon who settled in for 40 laps of the 4.1km Highlands Motorsport Park circuit. Throughout the two stints the ITM Aston Martin ran comfortably in seventh or eighth position. Damon took over late in the race for the run home with a top result very much on the cards. However, with just 8 laps remaining, the diff on the car exploded, ending the boys' race.

At the time of the problem the ITM Aston Martin was running behind the Chev Camaro GT3 of Inky Tulloch/Craig Lowndes which went on to finish fifth so potentially at least a sixth place finish was in the offing.

It was a fine performance as the brothers had no time behind the wheel prior to the weekend and the Aston Martin is a totally different beast to the single seater race cars both Damon and Brendon have raced successfully throughout their careers. The car has 600kw of V12 power, a six-speed sequential gearbox and is a physically larger vehicle than their usual cars.

"It is an amazing piece of kit," said Brendon of the car. "It was certainly different driving a tintop. There is a lot more power. They are not so good on the corners but the power certainly made up for it!"

Both Damon and Brendon are extremely grateful to the car owner, Tony Quinn of the Highlands Motorsport Park, who unexpectedly offered the car to Brendon a few weeks before the event. They also acknowledge the race effort would not have been possible without the support of ITM.

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