It was almost becoming a regular occurrence - the sound of a Formula 1 racing car blasting around Teretonga Park near Invercargill on a Friday afternoon.
For the last two Friday’s the shrill sound of a Ford Cosworth V8 has echoed around the country’s oldest motor racing circuit powering a mid-1990’s Simtek Formula 1 car, once driven by Italian Domenico Schiattarelli in the F1 World Championship, around the 2.64 kilometre Teretonga Park track.
The car was recently purchased by Tony Quinn and it has spent the last three months in the workshop of Leitch Motorsport and Restoration in Invercargill. Just over a week ago the car was ready for testing but Quinn was unavailable. The call went out to one of Quinn’s employees at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell, Damon Leitch, to head south and drive the car. The opportunity was quite appropriate for Leitch, a top performer over many seasons in the Toyota Racing Series, as he is the son of Barry and Marguerite Leitch who own Leitch Motorsport and Restoration. The initial test went well although the car was not geared correctly, wasn’t particularly well set up for the circuit and was on old tyres. After another week at Leitch Motorsport and Restoration the Simtek returned to the circuit on the Friday prior to Christmas and with Damon Leitch back at the wheel the car looked a whole lot more comfortable as the lap times tumbled.
With the driver happy all was well the test was over all too quickly but those in attendance were left thoroughly impressed at the raw speed and sound of a rare sighting of a Formula 1 car in New Zealand.
Leitch Motorsport & Restoration in Invercargill has refurbished many rare and exotic race cars over many years with cars from all over the world finding their way to the south of New Zealand due the international reputation the company enjoys.
The car was due to be taken to Cromwell to be handed over to Quinn on Christmas Day. It will spend time in the Highlands Motorsport Museum in Cromwell alongside another Formula 1 car, a 1991 Benetton once driven by Michael Schumacher.
Southland Sports Car Club
03 217 4288/021 351 499