Leitch dis­qual­i­fied af­ter en­durance win

The Southland Times - - News - Dave Ni­coll dave.ni­coll@stuff.co.nz

South­lander Da­mon Leitch took the win in open­ing round of the Carter’s Tyre Ser­vice South ls­land En­durance Se­ries only to land him­self and his brother Bren­don Leitch a dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Dur­ing the three-hour en­durance race on Satur­day, Leitch crossed the fin­ish line in first place in the As­ton Martin Van­tage GT3 he shared with Tony Quinn beat­ing Neil Foster and for­mer New Zealand A1GP driver Jonny Reid in their Audi R8 LMS GT3 Ul­tra.

How­ever, when Leitch re­turned to the start­ing grid he used his car to give a push to the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 driven by his brother Bren­don Leitch and Christina Orr-West al­low­ing them to cross the fin­ish line and claim third place af­ter the car had sput­tered to a halt 100 me­tres short of the fin­ish.

As a re­sult both cars were dis­qual­i­fied, hand­ing the win to Foster and Reid with Dwayne Carter and Shane Hodg­son, of Auck­land, sec­ond in their Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 with Ge­orge McFarlane and Jack Mil­li­gan of Christchurch third in the Porsche 997.

Da­mon Leitch said it was a bit of shame and a ‘‘pretty weird thing’’ to be dis­qual­i­fied af­ter he fin­ished the race.

His brother’s car was sput­ter­ing along to­wards the fin­ish line when he gave him a bump from be­hind which got the car rolling enough to drive over the line, Leitch said.

‘‘I’d al­ready fin­ished the race.’’

It was the first time Leitch had driven the As­ton Martin and he said it was re­ally amaz­ing to be so suc­cess­ful when he was in the car for the first time.

Ben By­ers and Jaxon Evans were fourth in their Audi R8 LMS GT3 with In­ver­cargill’s Scott O’Donnell and Al­lan Dip­pie of Dunedin fifth in the Porsche 991 Cup.

Reid said af­ter the race that to come back from the early pit­stop and be so close on track was more sat­is­fy­ing than bring­ing out a new ma­chine and dom­i­nat­ing. ‘‘I thought Da­mon drove par­tic­u­larly well and he can hold his head high.’’

Foster and Reid also set a new lap record dur­ing the race with a lap of 55.471 sec­onds.

The #22 Audi R8 LMS GT3, driven by Neil Foster and Jonny Reid, is fol­lowed closely by the As­ton Martin Van­tage GT3, driven by Da­mon Leitch and Tony Quinn. ROBYN EDIE/STUFF

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