Leanne TanderFleetcare TanderSport driver Leanne Tander will race in New Zealand for the first time when she travels across the Tasman to join the Toyota Racing Series at Manfield, this weekend.

Currently placed fourth in the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship following a fast yet unlucky weekend at Eastern Creek two weeks ago, Tander will join the European Techniques team for this weekend’s championship round at the South Island circuit.

In a quirk of fate, Tander will be untied with former Australian Formula 3 race winner Barton Mawer in the two-car team that began the season with another Aussie, Lucas Dumbrell.

The Toyota Racing Series is New Zealand’s premier Open Wheel series, featuring identical chassis and 1.8 liter four cylinder engines.

This years talented field includes the likes of Andy Knight, Daniel Gaunt, Bahrain driver Hamad Al Fardan and Australian F3 Champ Ben Clucas.

Tander, Australia’s most successful female racing car driver, said that whilst the deal was a last-minute opportunity she was keen to get behind the wheel in New Zealand.

“I’ve only been there twice, once on holiday and once to see Garth race in the V8 Supercar round at Pukekohe, so it’s going to be a great experience,” she said.

”I got a call from the team owner, Trevor Scheumack, on Monday and he asked if I was interested in racing for him, so Naturally I said of course! Trevor is trying to have an Australian outfit in the Toyota series so it’s great that he rang me and offered the drive.

”I know Bart from his time here in Australia and It will be nice to have a teammate I know to work with and help learn and develop the car,” Tander added.

Whilst the Toyota Racing series cars are smaller, lighter and less powerful than Leanne’s Fleetcare TanderSport Formula 3 Dallara, she said that she expected the basic driving principals to be very similar.

”The fundamentals are the same, they are both wings and slicks open wheelers so the driving technique wont be too different.

”Because I’ve been driving Open Wheel cars for the last few years It shouldn’t be too hard to adapt to the different car. From talking to Ben Clucas and Barton is seems like they have a little less grip, less aero and less speed compared to what I’ve been driving, but the basics are very similar.”

”The main challenge will be to learn the car and the circuit in ‘rookie’ practice on Thursday so I can be on the pace from the start of practice on Friday.” she said.

This weekends round at Manfield is the third round of an international stanza that has made up the middle section of this summers Toyota Racing Series. It is the fifth round of the championship proper, the eight round series concluding in late April this year.

Tander said that she hoped a good performance would see her invited back for future forays into the Kiwi racing scene.

”I’m certainly hoping to go well this weekend,” She said.

”I’d love to have the chance to go over there and race again, so we’ll see what happens and how the results pan out.”

Leanne Tander’s next run in her Fleetcare TanderSport Formula 3 car will be at the 2007 Formula 1 ™ ING Australian Grand Prix in March this year.