THE CONTENDERS: Luis Leeds
THE VHT S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship will go down to the wire at Sydney Motorsport Park on May 1-2, with Australia’s Champion Driver to be awarded the Gold Star for the 59th time.
While three drivers – Joey Mawson, Tim Macrow and Thomas Randle – are the three most realistic options to lift the title, the unpredictable nature of this year’s four-round series means there are actually six drivers still in contention.
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As we count down to the final round, here’s a rundown of the six drivers vying to become ‘Australia’s Champion Driver’ and claim the Gold Star award next weekend, instantly joining a list of Australian motor racing legends in the process.
Sitting fifth in the championship has been a result of quiet achievement for Garry Rogers Motorsport driver Luis Leeds.
The former Red Bull-backed junior sits 95 points from the championship lead but in front of teammate James Golding in his debut S5000 appearance.
Leeds’ consistent season has been a case of continued improvement and consistency being key elements to keep him as a dark horse in the Gold Star championship fight this year.
His bright yellow car has finished every race this year while his feature race performance has improved by two positions in each round.
He enters Sydney Motorsport Park having finished third at Sandown last time out so if his season progression continues it could be a particularly good weekend for the GRM driver!
Leeds qualified sixth at the Symmons Plains season opener and finished in the same position in race one.
He took advantage of the top eight inversion for the second heat and finished second position for his first podium finish of the year. Seventh in the finale’ wasn’t the result he had hoped for but the weekend represented a solid start for perhaps the quietest of the GRM trio.
Phillip Island showed more consistency: fifth in qualifying followed by finishes of sixth and seventh in the two heats, and a solid fifth in the feature race after several battles with the leading contenders showed his capabilities.
At Sandown Leeds qualified sixth again – he’s got a mortgage on the third row of the grid – and scored the same finish in the pair of weather-affected heats.
However, in the wild and crazy feature he excelled as others struck dramas, keeping his car on the island and scoring the third-place trophy.
More one-lap pace in qualifying will be key for Leeds’ to get himself amidst the regular outright contenders at Sydney Motorsport Park and play a role in determining how the championship plays out, however his consistency across a weekend will undoubtedly be an asset.
As one of only three drivers in the top six to have finished all of the nine races contested to date, it’s been a solid S5000 debut for the former Formula 4 champion.
LUIS LEEDS (GRM)
POINTS: 210 (5th)
WINS: 0 (best 3rd)
TOP 3: 2
POLES: 0 (Best 5th)
FRONT ROW: 0 (Best 5th)