Damon Leitch wins first round of Toyota series

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 21:41 15/01/2012
Damon Leitch
DOUG FIELD/Fairfax NZ

TRS WIN: Damon Leitch in action at Teretonga.

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Southland's Damon Leitch has enjoyed a fairytale weekend on his home circuit at Teretonga to take out the opening round of the Toyota Racing Series.

Leitch emerged as the surprise early leader in the championship after producing a string of consistent results during the three races.

He achieved his best ever placing in a Toyota Racing Series race on Saturday when he was able to finish in second place behind winner, Great Britain's Josh Hill. In atrocious weather conditions today, he managed to hold his nerve to grab fourth place in the second race of the round, before finishing in third place in a chaotic third race.

Leitch and Dutchman Hannes van Asseldonk both crashed out in that race, but benefitted from a rule that after a red flag finishes a race, results are taken from the previous lap. That meant van Asseldonk, who was leading the race, grabbed the win, while Leitch was able to nab third position.

Leitch was elated to have done so well against the best young international drivers in the world and said it was a massive confidence boost for the remaining four rounds of the series.

It was a weekend to savour for the Leitch family, with Damon's younger brother, Brendon, moving up to third in the Formula Ford standings after grabbing two second placings from the three races.

Australian driver Jason Bargwanna claimed a narrow round win in the New Zealand V8s series from Angus Fogg, but Fogg still holds a 53 point lead in the championship.

Bargwanna won the opening race of the round yesterday, with Fogg only able to end up fifth, after he was forced to start ninth on the grid after spinning out in the top 10 shootout. Fogg raced superbly on the wet track today, though, winning both of the V8s races.

Bargwanna was pleased to have taken out the round, but said he knew there was still a ton of work to do if he was to haul Fogg back over the remainder of the series.

''We came into this weekend knowing we had to win and close the gap on Foggy. We needed more than three points.

''The goal was to have a round win and to come away with a round win is very exciting. I don't know any other Aussies who have done that.''

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