Toyota racers scoop premier motorsport awards
New Zealand’s most coveted motorsport awards have gone to Toyota race drivers past and present.
An exceptional season for Southland driver Brendon Leitch (TRS 2014-2016) in the Toyota Racing Series was recognised when he received two major trophies at the annual Motorsport Awards Dinner in Wellington. Leitch, of Invercargill, received the Steel Memorial Trophy and the Bruce McLaren Trophy.
The Steel Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the New Zealand driver aged under 21 who displays exceptional dedication, skill and professionalism in their driving. The trophy was first awarded in 1983 and carries the names of some of New Zealand's top drivers including previous TRS race and championship winners Mitch Evans, Richie Stanaway and Brendon Hartley. Leitch took the award after finishing third overall and first Kiwi in this year’s Toyota Racing Series.
He was also awarded the Bruce McLaren Trophy for his achievement of being the top New Zealander in the series.
Palmerston North’s Brendon Hartley, the first-ever TRS race winner, was awarded the Jim Clark Trophy for the second year running. The trophy recognises the most meritorious racing performance of a driver who exhibits a sportsmanlike attitude and natural ability. Hartley, together with former F1 driver Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard, won the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship.
The 26 year old was also inducted onto Motorsport New Zealand’s Wall of Fame together with single-seater racers David Oxton (Auckland) and Jim Palmer (Hamilton).
“Big thanks to Motorsport NZ for awarding me the Jim Clark Trophy again, and for putting me on the Motorsport Wall of fame. I feel very privileged to have my name beside the NZ motorsport greats!” Hartley said.
Also recognised on the night was Nelson racer John McIntyre of Nelson (TRS 2008-2009) who partnered with Mataura’s Inky Tulloch to win the New Zealand 3 Hour Endurance Championship.
Nominations for awards come from the 96 member clubs who jointly own and contribute to MotorSport New Zealand as the country’s governing body for four-wheeled motor sports.