ITM MIKE Racing will sport a striking new livery for the winter season of endurance starting this weekend at Hampton Downs.
Brendon Leitch, 22, and Christina Orr-West, 30, will race in a similar guise to Leitch’s Castrol Toyota Racing Series FT50 featuring the signature ITM yellow.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS GT3 they’ll race is the second in the MIKE Racing stable. Leitch and Orr-West will compete in the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series as well as a campaign in the Carter’s Tyres South Island Endurance Series.
Earlier this week the team confirmed the second line-up for the two-car team, with Toyota 86 Championship graduates Reid Harker and Jack Milligan to race alongside the ITM-backed SLS.
Pre-event practice on Friday gave the team their first opportunity to properly test both of the cars.
Leitch and Orr-West each got a handful of laps around the 2.8km Hampton Downs National Circuit. Orr-West was first out onto the circuit to gauge the feeling of the car. A few minor changes were made to the SLS and by the end of the day she was comfortable.
“It felt great out there, I dropped two seconds off my time from the last time I was here,” she said.
“I’m really comfortable and the seat is great.”
The team face on odd challenge in that the car has particularly long nose and has very little steering lock. While some teams have struggled to negotiate the pit lane entry, they’ve been hampered by the shallow turning circle.
While it is a challenge, Orr-West doesn’t believe it’ll be too much of a hassle come race day.
“I think our biggest obstacle is pit entry to be honest. It looks like the other top cars struggle to get through there as well though, so I don’t think we’re going to lose too much time.”
Leitch completed the most laps between the pair and was hovering around the top five.
“It was good to get a good number of laps in today,” Leitch said.
“It’s pretty close up the front so it’ll just be about putting it all together tomorrow morning and trying to get it as far up the front as we can without taking too many risks.”
Leitch comes to the series off the back of a five-week campaign earlier this year in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series. It’s a decent changeup for the Invercargill-born driver, who’s more used to wings and slicks racing.
“Having traction control is a bit different, so I was having a bit of a fiddle with that as well and trying to see how the car reacts at the different levels.
“I think it’ll be a tight race up the front if it’s nice and dry. We’re ready to send it.”
Round one of the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series takes place at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park over May 18-19. For more information visit mikeracing.co.nz.
- May 20, 2018