New Zealand Drivers Front up for Toyota Racing Series

Published 4 January 2014

Four young Kiwi racing drivers have confirmed they will contest the 2014 Toyota Racing Series which has attracted a record grid of 23 cars.

Invercargill brothers Brendon and Damon Leitch will have the early ‘home’ advantage, with the series’ now traditional first round at Teretonga.

Damon (20) will be contesting his fourth season of TRS and has a series best result of third overall in 2012. With a racing career that began in karts at age 7 he has progressed through Formula Ford to TRS and has been very competitive in the southern rounds of the championship.

Younger brother Brendon (18) is moving up from Formula Ford where he finished third in 2012 and was second in 2013 behind fellow 2014 Kiwi TRS entrant James Munro. Like his brother Damon, Brendon Leitch has a solid foundation of karting that began in cadet karts in 2005.

The pair will race under the Nelson-based Victory Motor Racing team banner. Victory has run in TRS since the begining of the championship TRS from the outset of the championship and will step up to run five cars this year.

In addition to the Leitch brothers, the team will also run Te Puke’s Michael Scott (19) alongside American driver Neil Alberico and 16 year old Swedish driver Robin Hansson.

Scott contested TRS for the first time in 2013. Like most young racers he also began his racing career in karting before moving up to Formula First, Formula Ford and on to the premier Toyota Racing Series. A full-time student, he is balancing his passion for motor racing around his university engineering studies in 2013.

Californian Neil Alberico heads to TRS under the Team USA racing scholarship. Alberico (20) says he is honoured to be a part of such a prestigious program that has provided opportunities for many current stars racing in the USA.

“New Zealand is going to be an exciting adventure for Team USA and I am very much looking forward to the partnership between the guys at Victory Motor Racing and the Team USA Scholarship. A big thank you to all the supporters involved in this year’s programme to make this opportunity possible. I’m psyched to be headed to New Zealand in January to duke it out with some of the best drivers from around the world.”

Robin Hansson is the only Swedish driver contesting this year’s championship. He has raced Formula BMW and Formula Renault this year, and has a strong background in karting, where he posted a series win on debut in 2007.

Meanwhile racing engineer and former driver Andy Neale has confirmed that he will run two cars in the coming series for current NZ Formula Ford champion James Munro and second year TRS driver Andrew Tang from Singapore. Neale also ran Munro in Formula Ford in the 2012-2013 season, propelling him to the title in his rookie year.

“It is an exciting prospect to step up to join the premier single seater series as a team owner, to work with Toyota and the series management team. I have been engineering for other teams since the series inception,” said Neale.

Neale spent the southern hemisphere winter in Europe, coaching Andrew Tang in Formula Renault and achieved some promising results in a very competitive season of Formula Renault.

“Andrew is just in his first year of motorsport out of karting and it was a learning year for him. James is a local boy and is part of his career progression. He will be gunning for TRS Rookie honours,” says Neale.

The Toyota Racing Series is New Zealand’s premier international category and the only series that offers aspiring local racers the chance to compete in modern ‘wings-and-slicks’ open-wheel race cars against rising international drivers before heading offshore to the next step in their careers. For the international drivers, the series offers five weeks of intense racing action that propels them back into their northern hemisphere seasons ready to win races and championships.

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