Damon Leitch, of Invercargill, secured another good points haul as Round 3 of the highly competitive Toyota Racing Series took place at Taupo Motorsport Park at the weekend.
A quality entry from around the world has come to New Zealand to battle out the series this year and Leitch is amid the cut and thrust at the front of the field in his Post Haste Couriers Toyota car.
Qualifying is all important in such a talented field and Leitch secured eighth and seventh fastest times in the two qualifying sessions at Taupo on Saturday.
Later he lamented he hadn't put his best laps together when it mattered most.
"The car was going really well. I just couldn't quite put together a good lap," he said.
In Saturday's opening race of the round Leitch got a lot of wheelspin at the start and fell back to ninth place.
However, he worked his way back up the field, settling into seventh, and challenging British driver Jann Mardenborough in sixth place before time ran out to effect a pass.
Alex Lynn, of the UK, who was tied in fifth place on points with Leitch coming into the round, won the race.
Yesterday morning, from seventh on the grid, Leitch battled several factors throughout the second race.
Caught up in a tangle at turn one, which cost him several positions, the car developed gearbox and throttle problems as the race progressed.
Leitch nursed his car home, collecting another seventh place finish, a result he declared himself reasonably happy with "considering what the car was like."
The throttle and gearbox were repaired for the final event of the round, the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy Race, and Leitch was soon on the move.
He was quickly into fifth place, from eighth on the grid, before a safety car intervention after an incident.
Two cars passed him during the safety car period, something that is not permitted.
One of those cars allowed Leitch to re-pass but the other continued on when racing resumed.
That car copped a 50-second penalty for the infringement.
That left Leitch in fifth spot in the finale, a race in which he recorded the third-fastest lap of the race as Lynn collected another race win.
At the conclusion of the round Leitch was classified fifth overall and now lies seventh in the tight points battle.
The next round of the 2013 Toyota Racing Series takes place at Hampton Downs in Waikato next weekend.
- The Southland Times