Leitch seeks improvement at next US Formula 4 round

pic: Mark Russell

Invercargill’s Brendon Leitch returns to the United States this week to prepare for the second Formula 4 United States Championship event, running 8-11 June at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The only New Zealander contesting the US Formula 4 series, Leitch showed strong pace at Miami’s opening round in April and the 21-year-old aims to improve on his performance for round two.

“I’d really like to win a race,” says Leitch of the three-race programme where the 30-strong field will race on 14-turn Indy road course on which he had the opportunity to test at last year’s official F2000 test day.

Leitch can draw on that Indy test for his second Formula 4 event. “The F2000 car is very similar to the F4, so many characteristics should be the same on this circuit. I’ll take a few laps to re-familiarise myself with the track and then I’d hope to be on the pace.

“I’m just hoping to show some big improvement from the last round after a few teething problems. I’m feeling quite confident that the team have a really good package from here on in.”

Leitch’s car is run by New Zealander Garry Orton, director of Nelson-based Victory Motor Racing who ran all four of Leitch’s Toyota Racing Series campaigns, and utilises a full Kiwi crew.

Prior to heading to Indy, Leitch will join Orton in Dallas where they will run a private test for their F4 car and Leitch will also have another chance to test a F2000 car, which is the American variation of a Formula Ford used in the high-profile Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, a series sanctioned by IndyCar and the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy programme.

“Garry organised the F2000 test which is going to great in a few respects. It gives me some more seat time in a car similar to the F4. I hope to show some speed in the F2000 and, ideally, this could lead to a drive of some sort.”

With the F4 test, Leitch and the team aim to finetune their car which is important to Leitch’s future prospects in the hotly-contested US F4 series, as he had no time to test and finalise setup prior to the opening round in Miami, being a late entry to the series.

“I feel like we made some big gains throughout the Miami round and I’d really like to progress from there to find some more time both in myself and the car!”

Leitch will run the number 86, a race number he’s carried since he was seven years old, racing in karts in his hometown of Invercargill. The weekend’s programme includes practice sessions Friday and Saturday morning, qualifying and three 30-minutes races.

2017 Formula 4 United States Championship calendar

Rd1, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Florida – 8-9 April
Rd2, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana – 8-11 June
Rd3, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport), Bowmanville, Ontario – 8-9 July
Rd4, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio – 10-12 August
Rd5, Virginia International Raceway, Alton, Virginia – 25-27 August
Rd6, Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas – 14-17 September

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