DAY 1 REPORT
SMITH WINS AGAIN BUT PROCTOR SHOWS HIS HAND
MSC NZ F5000 series super-vet Ken Smith (Lola T332) remained unbeaten on the first day of racing at the second Gulf Oil Howden Ganley F5000 Festival historic motor racing meeting at Hampton Downs this afternoon, but not before rival Clark Proctor (March 73A/1) showed his hand.
Proctor again shadowed Smith in qualifying in the morning, grabbed an early if ultimately ill-fated lead off the rolling start and – after tripping over himself and losing four places – set the fastest race lap as hestormed back through the field to claim a hard-won third.
” Yes,” the high-profile Auckland all-rounder said of what turned out to be an entertaining – and for the first time over the two Gulf Oil weekends – 100% incident-free MSC race. “We’ve been playing around with springs and bits and pieces trying to find that little bit that Ken has got over us and to be four-tenths quicker than him and get the fastest lap shows we are obviously getting somewhere.”
Smith was still quicker in qualifying – coincidentally by four-tenths – but Proctor got the better drive off the rolling start and drove round the outside of Smith to take the lead on the run to Turn 2.
Smith wrested the lead back off Proctor on the left-right run over the hill from Turn 2 to 3 though, then Proctor lost one then two more places before the end of the lap as he bogged down out of Turn 5 then carried too much speed into the final corner (which his company, Metalman, owns the naming rights to.)
“I chose to leave it in third gear but didn’t carry enough speed through five and bogged down, which let Steve Ross get up on me, then going into Metalman I probably got a little bit keen trying to protect my position and caught myself out in the marbles.”
Proctor kept his car on the track, but by the time he had sorted out ‘a series of tank slappers,’ Ross, Greg Thornton (Surtees TS11). Paul Zazryn (LolaT332) and David Banks (Talon MR1) had all got past.
With Proctor out of the way Smith was left to manage his lead from the front, easing ahead and controlling the distance back to Ross until the chequered flag came out.
Before the weekend the evergreen veteran said his goal this weekend was to set a new class and outright track lap record. But today was not the day.
“Not in this heat,” he said. “Maybe tomorrow. Depending how hot it gets.”
With Smith and Ross out front Greg Thornton held third until he was first slowed then eventually stopped by a gearbox issue which saw his Surtees TS11 jumping out of gear under braking.
With Thornton out and Proctor back up to third, Paul Zazryn and David Banks circulated quickly and consistently in fourth and fifth respectively with Class A standout Alan Dunkley spending the early laps in sixth in front of Alastair Russell (McRae GM1 ) and the three-car battle pack of Aaron Burson (Talon MR1/A) and visiting Australian driver Peter Brennan and Brett Willis in their Lola T330s.
Willis was happy just to have a car to drive this weekend after he was involved in a four-car collision in the feature MSC F5000 series race at Hampton Downs last weekend and got quicker and quicker as the race went on, starting 12th but getting the better of his race-long battle with Brennan to cross the line ninth.
Going even quicker this weekend, meanwhile, was David Banks, the Auckland driver qualifying sixth quickest with his fastest ever lap round the 2.6km Hampton Downs circuit (1.02.479) then circulating in the low 1/02s in the race
“It’s just laps ” he said, referring to the extra mileage he is gaining at events this year in the historic Formula Ford he has recently bought. ” The Formula Ford is helping me do more laps and I more I do the more comfortable I get with both cars.”
“I was doing 1.11s when I started her and now I’m into the twos so I’m rapt, I couldn’t be happier.”
Further back in the field, Alastair Russell (McRae GM1) finally managed to find a way past giant-killing series’ young gun Alan Dunkley (Lola T140) after a race-long dice for sixth, while Calven Bonney in the New Zealand-built Begg 018 spent the race working past Peter Burson (McRae GM1) then Tony Roberts (McLaren M10A).
Today’s race was the first of three for the headlining MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series cars with two more tomorrow, a second 8-lap sprint in the morning a 15-lap feature in the afternoon.
The fight for the 2014/15 MSC crown then heads south for the penultimate round at the annual Skope Classic meeting over the Feb 7/8 weekend then back north to Manfield for the final at the 2015 New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Manfeild the weekend after.
The MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is organised and run with the support of sponsors MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney’s Specialized Bulk Transport, Mobil Lubricants, Pacifica, Avon Tyres, Webdesign and Exide.
Rnd 1: Nov 8-9 2014 VHRR Historic Sandown Melbourne Vic Aust
Rnd 2: Nov 29-30 2014 HSRCA Sydney Motorsport Park (Eastern Creek) Sydney NSW Aust
Rnd 3: Jan 16-18 2015 Gulf Oil Howden Ganley F5000 Festival #1 Hampton Downs Nth Waikato New Zealand
Rnd 4: Jan 23-25 2015 Gulf Oil Howden Ganley F5000 Festival #2 Hampton Downs Nth Waikato New Zealand
Rnd 5: Feb 7-8 2015 Skope Classic, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch, New Zealand
Rnd 6: Feb 12-15 2015 The NZIGP/Manfeild Trust/MSNZ/TRS Manfeild, Feilding, New Zealand
Prepared by FAST COMPANY of behalf of the New Zealand Formula 5000 Association http://www.F5000.co.nz.