Brendon Leitch first driver signed for TRS
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Kiwi Brendon Leitch has been confirmed as the first driver entered in this summer's Toyota Racing Series.
Leitch was announced as the category's first signing for the five-round series early in the New Year at Toyota Motorsport's unveiling of their new headquarters at Hampton Downs Raceway on Monday.
The state-of-the-art operation will house all 20 Toyota Racing Series cars as well as being the base for the popular entry-level Toyota 86 saloon car series.
Leitch has been a regular in the country's leading single-seater category in recent times - he has contested the past five championships with a best result of third in 2016. He was one of three New Zealanders to compete in the 2017 championship.
"It is a very difficult job getting the money together," the Southlander told The Herald. "I am very fortunate for ITM especially and all the supporters that have come onboard.
"I am really looking forward to the summer. Hopefully we can put some good results together."
Having spent the New Zealand winter driving competitively in the United States Leitch feels he will enter this summer in the best possible space.
"It is going to be a big advantage - this is the first time ever I have raced overseas for a full season so it really helps you.
"It is not the same car but a lot of race craft is the same sort of thing - all the passes and what not are the same so it all translates over to the car and will help out for sure.
"It has been a fantastic year and we have learnt a lot. It has been great learning all the new facilities over there - some of the best in the world.
"I was up against some really good young talent as well and it made me push hard."
While his immediate plans involve returning to the US for the final round of the US Formula 4 Championship at the Formula 1 round in Austin before his TRS campaign, Leitch is currently working on a deal for the remainder of 2018.
"We have a few things brewing up at the moment but nothing to be announced just yet," he said. "I am definitely working on a few options for next year - I am hoping to head back overseas to do some racing and we will see how it goes. It is obviously very expensive so we are just putting the budget together.
"[The United States] is a really good route and it is a lot more affordable than Europe. The exposure over there is amazing especially with the likes of Scott Dixon. It is great for Kiwis and we are really sought-after over there."
It is thought that at least two more New Zealanders will join Leitch on the TRS grid with up to five drivers hoping to put together the budget for it.