2011/12 F5000 Tasman Revival Series Reports

Phillip Island Classic Round & Series Report

ROSS WRAPS UP TITLE WITH FEATURE WIN IN AUSTRALIA

Kiwi Steve Ross (McRae GM1) wrapped up the 2011/12 MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series title in style with a win in the feature eight lap final at the Phillip Island Classic motor racing meeting in Australia on Sunday.

The series win is the Dunedin contractor’s first in three year’s contesting the MSC series and comes after early career success at home in the Pre 65 and OSCA classes.

Heading into the weekend it looked like 25-year-old US-based professional James Davison (Lola T332) would have the upper hand, but though the third-generation Australian racer claimed pole position with a time a second-and-a-half quicker than Ross, it was Ross who won three of the four races and set the fastest race lap in the feature final.

With two laps to go it looked like the Kiwi would finish second in the other race, too, until he mistook the final lap flag for the chequered one and slowed down, allowing Andrew Robson (Lola T332) to demote him to third before he realised his mistake.

Robson, driving the Lola T332 originally owned and raced in the 1970s with much success by three-time MSC F5000 series champion Ken Smith, ended up best of the rest of the bumper MSC F5000 field, splitting race winner Steve Ross and third placeman David Abbott (Lola T430) in the first race of the weekend on Saturday morning then finishing second to either Ross or Davison in the other races.

Abbott, in turn, was the best of the other New Zealand-based MSC series regulars, qualifying fourth then finishing third in the first race, fifth in the second and fourth in each Sunday race.

Sunday’s races were not just close run affairs up front either, Abbott leading home a tightly-bunched freight train of cars in the 6 lap morning outing with UK-based MSC series regular Greg Thornton (Chevron B24) fifth, eventual series runner-up Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) sixth and former series champion Ian Clements (Lola T332) from Christchurch sixth.

A little further back Kiwi Russell Greer and Australian Darcy Russell circulated nose-to-tail in their similar Lolas (Greer’s the ex Graeme Lawrence T332, Russell’s the ex Max Stewart/Kevin Bartlett T330) with series newcomer David Arrowsmith again the first of the Class A (for earlier cars) runners in his recently acquired Ford-powered Lotus 70.

For 2011/12 series runner-up Aaron Burson the fourth and final race was his best, the Aucklander crossing the line four seconds behind Abbott in fifth with Brian Sala (Matich A50) and Ian Clements (Lola T332) on his tail.

Greg Thornton separated Abbott and Burson for much of the race, but ran low on fuel in the final lap, slipping back to eighth place and crossing the finish line just in front of Sefton Gibb (Lola T332). Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) and the trans-Tasman duo of Russell Greer and Darcy Russell.

That’s it for the MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series for another year but the success of that series has spawned a new one in Australia, the Australian F5000 Cup for which the Phillip Island Classic meeting was the openin round.

Subsequent rounds of that series will be held at major historic motor racing meetings in Australia during the year with the final at one of the early rounds of the 2012/13 MSC F5000 (New Zealand) series meaning both series compliment rather than compete against each other.

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, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide.

2011/12 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Rnd 6 (Final) Phillip Island Classic Victoria Australia Fri-Sun March 09-11
Qualifying
1. James Davison (Lola T332) 1:29.6362
2. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 1:31.3099
3. Andrew Robson (Lola T332) 1:31.9762
4. David Abbott (Lola T430) 1:33.3947
5. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 1:34.7349
6. Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) 1:34.8189
7. Bryan Sala (Matich A50) 1:35.5243
8. Greg Thornton (Chevron B24) 1:35.9145
9. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 1:36.8644
10. Darcy Russell (Lola T330) 1:36.9202
11. Brett Willis (Lola T330) 1:36.9277
12. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 1:37.3711
13. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 1:38.4646
14. Chris Hocking (Matich A52) 1:39.2454
15. Dave Arrowsmith (Lotus 70B) 1:39.2682
16. Scott Drnek (Surtees TS8) 1:39.7216
17. Graham Smith (March 73A) 1:40.2400
18. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8 AC) 1:42.0460
19. Robert Harborow (Elfin MR8) 1:42.5898
20. Philip Lewis (Matich A50) 1:43.4713
21. John Bryant (Lola T140) 1:44.9685
22. Jay Bondini (Lola T332) 1:47.9765
23. Timothy Rush (McLaren M22-3) 1:51.2272

Round 5 Report

ROSS BREAKS LYON’S WINNING STREAK AT PENULTIMATE MSC F5000 SERIES MEETING

Heading into this weekend’s penultimate MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series round at Christchurch’s Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park the question on everyones’ lips was ‘who can beat Michael Lyons (Lola T400)?’

The answer – emphatically – was Steve Ross (McRae GM1), the 2011/12 series points leader finally breaking the young British driver’s nine-race winning streak with lights-to-flag victories in both Sunday races.

Ross, in only his third full season in the MSC series, could well have made it three out of three too, had he not spun on oil while leading Lyons in the weekend’s first race on Saturday afternoon.

To his credit 21-year-old second-generation racer Lyons qualified quickest and set the fastest race lap of the weekend before twice being slowed by broken valve springs, in the race he won on Saturday afternoon and again in the 12-lap Mobil1 feature on Sunday.

But you couldn’t take anything away from Ross, particularly early in the second and third races when he withstood immense pressure from Lyons to remain in front.

“I knew Michael was there, obviously,” he said, “then he started to fall back for some reason. Without knowing what that was I just kept my head down. Full credit to the Motorsport Solutions team this weekend, the car has been awesome, absolutely awesome.”

For his part Lyons was looking at the positives, though he found it hard to cover the frustration he felt about his own car not having the same sort of straight line speed as the Ross McRae.

“It would have been nice to win all the races here but you know I did win nine out of 11 so I suppose I should be happy. We got a reasonable start in the feature today but I still couldn’t fight the horsepower Steve had when we got through Turn 1. I got alongside him in a few places, more than alongside in fact, then all of a sudden the engine note changed – just like a 2-stroke really – and I knew something was wrong. We only had one valve spring to put in when we replaced the one that broke on Saturday and I think, perhaps, if we had put in a set it would have got us through the weekend.”

Second home in Sunday’s feature after his strongest series round so far was Rotorua driver Brett Willis (Lola T330). After repairing a tub lightly creased after contact at the hairpin in Saturday’s race, former Trans-Am (America) and Sports Sedan (NZ) driver Willis put in two strong drives on Sunday, finishing third behind Ross and Lyons on Sunday morning and second – after getting the jump on local fast man Ian Clements (Lola T332) – in the third.

“That’s definitely my best result so far so yeah we’re rapt,” said Willis afterwards”

Clements remained at his quick and consistent best to finish third, with Aucklander Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) fourth and Greg Thornton (Chevron B244) the best of the visiting British drivers (Michael Lyons having retired and his father Frank further back in the field in wife Judy’s Lola T332) in fifth.

Early on Willis led usual sparring partner Roger Williams (Lola T332), Clements, Burson and Michael Whatley (Lola T300). At one stage Whatley got past Burson but fuel starvation problems slowed him on parts of the circuit – particularly on the exit of the sweeper onto the start/finish straight – and he slipped back into the clutches of compatriot Thornton, then – progressively – Stan Redmond (Lola T332) and eventually Russell Greer (Lola T332), David Abbott (Lola t430) and Lindsay O’Donnell (Begg FM5).

Fuel issues also affected visiting American driver Harin de Silva, but only because his car’s tank was not big enough for the longer Mobil 1 feature. The answer, which the Los Angeles driver came up with crew chief Scott Drnek, was to only do one of the warm up laps before pitting for a top off then starting the race from the pit lane.

You could see de Silva wasn’t pushing quite as hard as he did in the shorter morning race but he still managed to make up 13 places and cross the finish line in 10th spot – not to mention complete the cool-down lap without running dry.

A little further back the other visiting American drivers Seb Coppola (Lola T182) and category original Eric Haga (Lola T190) were running in tandem until Haga spun.

“I guess I was just a little bit overambitious, Haga chuckled. ” We had some problems this morning and made some changes to the car and it was handling beautifully this afternoon,” he said. “I felt I was lapping faster than I have all weekend.”

Race 2 (8 laps Sun)
Ross got his first win in the weekend’s second MSC series race on Sunday morning after again getting the better of his young rival into the first corner.

As he did in the first two laps of the weekend’s first race on Saturday afternoon, Lyons shadowed his every move but this time Ross didn’t put a foot wrong, the pair quickly pulling away from a fast-starting Brett Willis with Roger Williams third, Ian Clements fourth and Aaron Burson fifth.

Early on David Abbott led a multi-car, high speed freight train behind Burson, trailing Greg Thornton, Russell Greer, Chris Lambden, Harin de Silva and Stan Redmond in his wake, but on the third lap he (Abbott) slowed with what turned out to be a fuel pump problem. Frank Lyons was also an early casualty, slowing then retiring to the pits with what turned out to be a cracked right-hand front brake disc rotor.

With Abbott out Aaron Burson assumed the lead of the battlepack with Thornton seventh, Greer eighth and Lambden ninth. Series new face, Lambden – an expat Kiwi who commutes to and from rounds from his Melbourne home – was enjoying his strongest race so far though as the race went on he slipped back into the hands of impressive American visitor Harin de Silva.

“The car was really good for the first couple of laps but then it got a bit tailey and to be fair in the last couple of laps I was probably getting a bit tired too. I’m new to this of course so right now finishing races and getting miles is what matters most at the moment.”

As Lambden slowly lost touch with Greer, Harin de Silva was just getting into his stride, first catching and passing Lambden then setting his sights on Russell Greer and once he was past him, Greg Thornton. Local class stalwarts Stan Redmond and Lindsay O’Donnell also managed to find a way past Lambden, eventually crossing the finish line in 10th and 11th place respectively.

Behind Lambden came David Arrowsmith, back in the running with a new half-shaft, fellow category freshman David Banks (Talon MR1A), Aaron Buron’s father Peter in his McRae GM1, then Tim Rush in the rare McLAren M22, Australian visitor John Bryant in his freshly rebuilt Lola T140 and American visitors Seb Coppola and Eric Haga.

Race 1 (8 laps Sat)

Steve Ross showed his race-winning potential in the first MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon, leading Michael Lyons for two laps before coming unstuck on oil dropped by another car as he braked for the infield right hander.

With Ross out of the way Lyons went on to win the race but not without dramas of his own, his pace slowed first by a cracked header then later by what turned out to be a broken valve spring.

As it turned out both were lucky they were able to make it to the grid, third quickest qualifier Tony Richards sidelined before he even got to start a race after damaging his Lola T332’s floor late in qualifying when he ran over a halfshaft which flew off David Arrowsmith’s Lotus 70, and early season series pace-setter Jay Esterer deciding to sit the weekend’s races out – despite lapping seventh quickest in qualifying – when he couldn’t track down and fix a persistent engine misfire. One of the other regular series front runners, visiting British driver Mark Dwyer, was another forced to take an early shower thanks to a suspension failure on Friday.

Behind Lyons, Ian Clements held a safe second place until the chequered flag, initially from Brett Willis but when he (Willis) spun the place was assumed by Frank Lyons from Roger Williams, David Abbott and Michael Whatley. Williams was the next to falter, slowing then pitting with a fuel problem.

With the bit well-and-truly between his teeth it was Ross who was the big mover though, setting the fastest race lap (despite having to thread through the traffic) on his way back up through the field. By the fifth lap he was in ninth place, by the chequered flag third, having caught and passed Frank Lyons within sight of the chequered flag.

Los Angeles resident de Silva remained the best of the three-man American contingent, eventually crossing the finish line in 10th with compatriot Seb Coppola (Lola T192) getting the better of an entertaining battle with Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5) a little further back to finish 16th with Eric Haga in the distinctive high-wing Lola T190 18th.

With the five New Zealand rounds of the 2011/12 MSC series now over for another season the series now crosses the Tasman for the 2022/12 final at the biennial Phillip Island Classic meeting at the Phillip Island circuit south of Melbourne over the March 10/11 weekend.

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, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide. The series continues next weekend at the annual Skope Classic meeting at Christchurch’s Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park.

Round 4 report

NZ Festival of Motor Racing celebrating BMW Motor Sport

28 January 2012, Hampton Downs. Report submitted by Ross McKay of Fast Company for the NZ Formula 5000 Association – Rd 4 – Sunday

LYONS COMPLETES MSC F5000 CLEAN SWEEP AT SECOND HAMPTON DOWNS MEETING

Series young gun Michael Lyons (Lola T400) completed an MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series clean sweep with another lights-to-flag victory in the final 15 lap feature at the second New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing – celebrating BMW Motorsport historic motor racing meeting at the Hampton Downs circuit south of Auckland this afternoon.

Having qualified quickest and won all four MSC F5000 series races at the first NZ Festival meeting a week ago the just-turned-21-year-old did it again this weekend, claiming pole position in qualifying on Saturday morning before winning all three races contested, the first from series points leader Steve Ross and visiting Canadian driver Jay Esterer (both McRae GM1), the second from defending series champion Ken Smith (Lola T430) and Ross, and the third from Ross and Smith.

Though Smith got close before the Safety Car was deployed early in the second race, Lyons was literally in a class of his own again this weekend, proof the new outright track lap record, at 59.840, he set on the final lap of the second race.

Since the Hampton Downs circuit has been operating, the outright track record has been steadily whittled down by MSC F5000 series drivers, Ken Smith setting the original benchmark at 1.02.279 in 2010. Toyota Racing Series driver Mitch Evans reduced it to 1.01.846 soon after but both Michael Lyons (1.00.536) and Steve Ross (1.00.497) went under that at the first 2012 NZ Festival meeting last weekend and after first dipping below the magic one minute mark in qualifying on Saturday morning this weekend (59.869) Lyons completed the job in the weekend’s second MSC series race with his 59.846.

“There’s something about doing it in a car that’s 40 years old too,” he said. “When you’ve got a bit of a streak going the pressure piles on and you’ve just got to put your head down and keep working away at it. But the flip side of that is that these things are just so much fun to drive. You know, five hundred horsepower, big fat tyres, they’re proper racing cars!”

Today’s 15-lap final was held in warm, blustery conditions but came to a premature end when the red flags came out after Kiwi expat Chris Lambden (McRae GM1) and American visitor Eric Haga (Lola T140) tangled albeit without serious damage on the run up the start/finish straight.

Before that the race had run pretty much to script, Lyons getting the jump on fellow front-row starter Smith then Steve Ross – who had been relegated to third place on the grid when Smith set a quicker lap time in the morning race – following Lyons through on the inside into second.

Lyons then proceeded to pull out a five-to-six car advantage on Ross with Smith a frustrated third, Jay Esterer fourth and Mark Dwyer (Lola T400) fifth. Behind Dwyer, Roger Williams (Lola T332) led Brett Willis (Lola T330), Frank Lyons (Gurney-Eagle) and Greg Thornton (Chevron B24) with a gap back to another close-running multi-car freight train led by Russell Greer (Lola T332) from Stu Lush (McRae GM1), Chris Lambden, Shane Windelburn (Lola T400), Class A standout Alan Dunkley (Lola T140), David Abbott (Lola T430) and Dave Arrowsmith (Lotus 70).

That’s the way the order up front stayed until Jay Esterer got a run on Smith around the outside at Turn 1. Brett Willis was also on the move easing away from Frank Lyons as he set his sights on Roger Williams.

Willis then got past Williams on the seventh lap, about the same time as John MacKinlay found a way past Russell Greer.

The next big change was Smith launching a successful attack on Jay Esterer, who eventually retired with fuel feed problems, for third place. Roger Williams also slowed and headed for the pits at this stage leaving Willis chasing down Mark Dwyer for fourth and Frank Lyons in a lonely fifth.

The yellow flags then came out when Alan Dunkley beached his giant-killing Lola T140 in the gravel on the outside of the second turn and not long after the red flags were deployed to stop the race so that officials could tend to Lambden and Haga’s stranded cars. Because more than 75% of the projected race distance had been completed the results were declared, then afterwards amended when Brett Willis was deemed to have passed (subsequent to him getting past Williams) after the race was red flagged.

With Dunkley out the best of the Class A runners was David Arrowsmith in his Lotus 70 in 12th place, while with Harin de Silva’s Surtees TS8 breaking a suspension upright on the warm-up lap the best of the three-man American contingent was Seb Coppola (Lola T192) who crossed the finish line in 16th place.

Both Coppola and de de Silva thoroughly enjoyed their debut drives in a series they have been hearing good things about for years.

“It was very enjoyable to be part of such a big grid,” said de Silva. “The level of noise you hear at the start with all these cars is quite incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so loud, even with ear plugs!”

Race 2 (8 laps Sunday morning)
This was the race in which Michael Lyons set his new outright track lap record – despite the majority of laps being run behind the Safety Car. Fortunately – as it did in the weekend’s first MSC F5000 series race on Saturday afternoon – it returned to the pits with one lap to go, allowing Lyons to put down the hammer, his 59.840 final lap 0.29 quicker even than his pole time from Saturday morning.

The young second-generation British driver got the jump on fellow front row starter Steve Ross off the line but this time it was Ken Smith who dived down the inside forcing Ross and fellow McRae GM1 driver Jay Esterer wide. As they sorted themselves out Mark Dwyer muscled his way into third place with Ross fourth, Esterer fifth and Roger Williams sixth.

Behind Williams, Brett Willis led Frank Lyons and John MacKinlay but Greg Thornton was soon past MacKinlay (March 73A) who in turn led Russell Greer (Lola T332), Chris Lambden (McRae GM1) and Class A standout Alan Dunkley.

The order then remained static until Stu Lush (McRae GM1) coasted down the start/finish race and parking his car at the side of the track after his car’s low oil pressure light went on and Warwick Mortimer pulled off the circuit a lap later with what turned out to be a gearbox problem.

It was Jay Esterer who brought the Safety Car out though, the Canadian running into the back of Steve Ross as the pair braked for the infield hairpin and ending up with his car prone in the gravel trap.
That wasn’t the end of the incidents either, visiting American driver Eric Haga outbraking himself into the first turn and ending up stuck in the middle of the track soon after.

Fortunately he was able to re-start his car and get it out of the way before Lyons and co arrived at the end of their penultimate lap.

Race 1 (8 laps Saturday)
With qualifying postponed from Friday afternoon because of damp track conditions the first of two projected MSC F5000 series races on Saturday was canceled, and when Clark Proctor (March 73A) blew an engine on the second lap of the afternoon race all but one of the remaining laps were run behind the Safety Car, leaving fastest qualifier Michael Lyons to stroke to his fifth win in as many races since he arrived in New Zealand.

Behind him Steve Ross slotted into second place with Ken Smith close behind in third then a gap back to Mark Dwyer, Jay Esterer – back in the series after having to sit out the first round with fuel starvation problems – Clark Proctor (before his car’s engine blew), Roger Williams, Michael Lyon’s father Frank, Brett Willis, and Stu Lush.

Proctor’s prone car brought out the yellow flags then the Safety Car, however, and the order remained the same until Ken Smith dived into the pits to have a loose right-hand-side muffler re-moved. Smith re-joined the race but had to remain line astern at the back of the field until the track went green again on the last lap. When it did he didn’t waste any time, making it back up to 11th place by the time the chequered flag came out.

With Lyon’s fellow young gun Alan Dunkley under strict instructions to nurse home his giant-killing high-wing Lola T140 after a crack was discovered in its gearbox bell-housing after qualifying first Class A car home was the Lotus 70 of Christchurch driver David Arrowsmith.

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, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide. The series continues next weekend at the annual Skope Classic meeting at Christchurch’s Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park.

Round 3 report

NZ Festival of Motor Racing celebrating BMW Motor Sport

20-22 January 2012, Hampton Downs. Report submitted by Ross McKay of Fast Company for the NZ Formula 5000 Association

LYONS COMPLETES MSC F5000 RACE CLEAN-SWEEP BUT ROSS GETS NEW OUTRIGHT TRACK LAP RECORD AT HAMPTON DOWNS

Young gun Michael Lyons (Lola T400) won all four MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series races at the first New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing – celebrating BMW Motorsport meetings at the Hampton Downs circuit south of Auckland over the weekend but series point leader Steve Ross (McRae GM1) added the icing on the cake with a new outright track lap record.
Lyons, who with father Frank and mother Judy, has been traveling from the UK to contest rounds of the New Zealand-based MSC series for the past four years, showed an inkling of what he could do at the two New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meetings last year and took up where he left off this, claiming pole position in the qualifying session on Friday then leading all four races – including the feature 15-lap final – from start to finish.

“The weekend has gone pretty well hasn’t it” the 20-year-old from Essex north of London said after his meeting clean sweep. “Last year we weren’t quite as well prepared and it was all a bit last minute. Also I hadn’t really driven the car much that year. This year we didmost of the British championship, which we won, so we were better prepared with the car so it’s great to be able to come out here and be able to do so well.”

After winning both races in hot, dry conditions on Saturday, the first from Steve Ross, Ken Smith (Lola T430) and Clark Proctor (March 73A) and the second – after Ross and Proctor tangled at the first corner – from Smith, Mark Dwyer (Lola T400) and Brett Willis (Lola T330), Lyons led home a fired up Smith, Proctor and Ross in the rain-delayed third race just after lunch time and 15-lap feature final later in the afternoon on Sunday.

 

While the third race was very much a non-event because of the intervention for four of the eight laps of the Safety Car (while Kerry McIntosh’s bent Begg FM2 was retrieved from the safety barriers on the run up to the start/finish straight) the 15-lap feature saw Lyons, Ross, Smith, Proctor and Dwyer set a cracking early pace, a sign of just how quickly the leading cars were circulating, Steve Ross breaking the new outright track lap record Lyons had set during the first race on Saturday.

Heading into the meeting the outright record for the 2.800km circuit belonged to Ken Smith with a best time of 1.01.210 set at the second NZ Festival of Motor Racing meetings last year. Lyons lowered that to 1.00.813 on the first MSC F5000 race on Saturday but Ross went even quicker in the final on Sunday, trimming it to an 1.00.497 on just the second lap of the race.

When he found out the Dunedin man was literally lost for words, but when he found some he was quick to share the credit.

“I’ve held a few class lap records but never an outright track one,” he said. “All credit to the Motorsport Solutions team who prepare and run the car, they’ve done a brilliant job this weekend. The car was flying, absolutely flying.”

Behind Lyons and Ross, Ken Smith, Clark Proctor, Mark Dwyer and Brett Willis maintained their positions equidistant from each other for the remainder of the race with fan interest centred on Aaron Burson (McRae GM1 and his race-long battle with Michael Lyons’ father Frank (Gurney-Weslake) and Michael Whatley (Lola T300).

Lap after lap Burson stalked Lyons Snr until he eventually found a gap and pounced. Once past he then set off after Whatley, making up another position to cross the line a satisfied seventh.

“Frank’s a great competitor and he certainly knows his racecraft,” said Burson, whose own father Peter, who also drives a McRae GM1, finished not far behind in 13th place.”I had to try a few times to finally get past him but I’m not complaining, because I think we both enjoyed it!”

First Class A finisher was again Alan Dunkley, the 22-year-old former kart and Suzuki Swift Cup series front-runner completing a dream debut meeting in one of the oldest cars in the field, a family-run high-wing Lola T140. After a weekend-best seventh place finish in the rain-dampened third race of the weekend Dunkley battled Christchurch driver Dave Arrowsmith’s Lotus 70 in the 15-lap feature, the pair rarely more than a car length or two apart until – after handing the advantage to Arrowsmith mid-race – Dunkley found a way past down the inside through the first corner then pulled away to cross the finish line just behind 10th placed Shayne Windelburn.

“Yes,” Dunkley said, “I had a bit too much pressure in the tyres in case it rained and the tyres overheated. The enginegot a bit hot too so I backed off for a couple of laps then got back on it with a couple to go.”

Dunkley’s T140 was one of three early model Lolas contesting the third round of the MSC F5000 series at Hampton Downs with Australian John Bryant and American category original Eric Haga completing the finishing lineup. Haga, who brought with him the very same car he raced in the L&M Continental Series in the United States and Canada in 1970, reckoned his decision to come ‘down under’ to compete was one of the best he has ever made.

“I’ve had a fantastic weekend. In fact right now I can’t think of a place I’d rather be.”

Race 3 (8 laps)
The firstrace on Sunday morning was postponed until after the lunch break in the hope that the track would dry but a short shower just before the delayed start saw cars back on stands as slick tyres were swapped for wets. Several drivers – Roger Williams, Stu Lush and David Banks amongst them – decided not to risk the changeable conditions, while Mark Dwyer could only sit and watch after his crew discovered a crack in his car’s front left suspension upright as they were swapping front dry to wet tyres.

As it turned out the race was very much decided when Kerry McIntosh spun his Begg FM2 exiting the final corner at the end of his second lap. The accident brought out the Safety Car and five of the next 8 laps were run under controlled conditions with pole man Michael Lyons leading from Ken Smith, Clark Proctor, Steve Ross and Brett Willis.

With the track drying drivers like Willis and Class A standout Alan Dunkley who had elected to start on slicks had their decisions vindicated but with just one lap left to run when the Safety Car returned to the pits the order at the flag remained the same, Lyons winning from Smith, Proctor, Ross, Whatley, Willis, Dunkley, John MacKinlay and David Arrowsmith.

Aaron Burson had been running just behind MacKinlay early on but he spun (harmlessly as it turned out) before the Safety Car came out, rejoining in13th place.

SATURDAY

Lyons’s perfect weekend started on Friday with pole position in qualifying and continued with wins in both Saturday’s 8-lap races,the first – in the morning – from series points leader Steve Ross, defending series champion Ken Smith and Clark Proctor, and the second from Smith, Mark Dwyer and Brett Willis.

Missing, unfortunately, from the front-running pack was the driver who won all three races at the second New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meeting last year, Canadian Jay Esterer (McRae GM1).

After a heavy startline accident at the second round of this season’s MSC F5000 series at Manfeild late last year the Canadian had to strip, rebuild and air freight out his second McRae GM1 to get it here in time for this weekend’s meeting but a fuel leak in practice then full-on engine fire in qualifying put paid to hisefforts to re-join the fray before they had even started.

Having damaged his own Lola T332 in the startline accident at Manfeild, three-time series champion Ken Smith was also forced to revert to another car, in this case the familiar Lola T430 he has used with such effect for the past four seasons.

Fastest starter in both races was Dunedin’s Steve Ross but he and Proctor tangled as the field streamed into the first at the beginning of the second race leaving Lyons to win his second raceunchallenged from Smith with Mark Dwyer third and Brett Willis a season-best fourth.

Initially Michael Lyons lead Smith and Dwyer and that’s how the order was when the results came out, but on the track Steve Ross rejoined the race between Smith and Dwyer and circulated in third place (albeit a lap down) until the chequered flag came out.

Alan Dunkley’s distinctive high-wing Lola T140 was first Class A (for older F5000 models) car home, finishing 11th in the first race and 10th in the second.

MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series competition continues at the second New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing – celebrating BMW Motorsport meeting next weekend.

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, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide.

For more information about the two NZ Festival of Motor Racing – celebrating BMW Motorsport meetings go to http://www.nzfmr.co.nz.

 

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