Dayle ITM Racing duo Christina Orr-West and Brendon Leitch avoided the drama around them to take a second podium from two races in the Carter’s Tyres South Island Endurance Series race on Saturday and in doing so moved to second in the championship standings.
The old motor racing adage of ‘to finish first, first you must finish’ definitely applied at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna in the three hour marathon, as almost half the field didn’t make it home. Any one of the seven GT3 cars could have won, but reliability proved crucial with four of those seven retiring within the first hour with mechanical problems. There were dramas for Orr-West and Leitch too.
It was only the lightning reflexes of former Indy Lights and TRS racer Orr-West that saved the Dayle ITM Audi from heavy damage after contact when lapping slower traffic on lap seven.
Orr-West took to the grass as one stationary car rejoined after a spin and hit another pushing both into the path of the Audi. Orr-West avoided major contact, but suffered some damage to the gearbox radiator intake on the right hand side of the car and that would leave them with plenty to think about as the race progressed.
“We started seventh and thought our best hope for the day would be a top five,” she explained. “The race turned out to be a lot more dramatic than any of us had imagined though and after our close call on lap seven we then had to deal with an overheating gearbox thanks to the bodywork damage. That meant Brendon and myself had to nurse it a little whilst still trying to maintain the fast pace of the newer GT cars.”
Despite that, Orr-West made solid progress through the field in the first portion of the race and had moved up four places from the grid position when she handed over to Leitch at the half way mark.
“Christina handed the car over to me in third which was super impressive,” added Leitch.
“From there I was able to push on for a few laps but the temperatures were getting too high after the contact so we opted for a more conservative race. We went into fuel saving and gearbox nursing mode to make it homes and it was actually more difficult to drive at that slower pace than flat out as there were some new things to think about and manage. That’s a position I’ve never really been in before, but we were genuinely delighted to grab another podium. Another massive team effort all round and we can’t wait for the next round.”
Victory for the second race in a row in the South Island series went to the Heart of Racing Team saw Spanish international Alex Riberas and D1NZ drifting star Darren Kelly in their new Aston Martin GT3 and they now sit on the top of the points table. The next round of the championship will be at the Levels Raceway, Timaru on 17th October.