2014 NZ Festival of Motoring


ANXIOUS MOMENTS BEFORE LYONS COMPLETES SECOND HAMPTON DOWNS’ CLEAN SWEEPnewzealand11 newzealand12 14MSCF5000Rnd3R2MichaelLyonsleadsTonyRichardspins-1

There were some anxious moments for MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series pace-setter Michael Lyons (Lola T400) before he successfully completed another race clean sweep at the second New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meeting at Hampton Downs today.

Lyons, who qualified on pole and won the first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon, was leading the second MSC race on Sunday morning when it was red flagged, while he had to nurse his car home from half distance in the 15-lap final when an exhaust header cracked then ran under his car’s right rear wheel when it (the header) finally broke off.

“I heard it crack first ,” said the just-turned 23-year-old, “then a couple of laps later the engine note changed again and when I looked in the mirror after the car suddenly jumped sideways when I was accelerating out of the sweeper there was a big cut in the right rear tyre so I spent the rest of the race thinking that I needed to keep going fast enough so that the boys behind me didn’t think they had a chance of catching me but not so fast that I was going to risk blowing the tyre because if it was going to go it was going to be a big one.”

After the second weekend race was considered null and void because it was red flagged before 75% of its full distance was completed after Brett Willis (Lola T330) hit the start/finish straight wall when he lost control on oil dropped from another car, the 15-lap final also started – literally – under a cloud.

First it was brought forward until just after lunch because of the threat of rain. Then, just as the field thundered out onto the track for the warm-up laps light rain started to fall, prompting race organizers to call the cars back to the pits to swap from slick tyres to wets.

By the time all the cars were back in pitlane however, the shower had passed and even those drivers who had elected to change to wets had to change back to slicks when the race was declared dry.

With Clark Proctor (March 73A), Greg Thornton (March 75A) and David Banks (Talon MR1) already out with gearbox issues of one sort or another, Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) sidelined by a broken brake caliper, Brett Willis (Lola T330) and Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5) out after car and/or engine damage from the aborted race in the morning, and Michael Lyons’ mother Judy (Lola T332) electing not to start the feature final, the field was down to 11 cars by the time the feature started.

That didn’t mean it was without interest though, with Michael Lyons’s father Frank (Gurney-Eagle FA74) grabbing second place after a daring move around the outside of Andrew Higgins (Lola T400)through the first turn and special event and MSC series guest Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (Ferrari 156/85 turbo F1) working his way from the back of the grid (after a rush to even get there thanks to a misunderstanding about the earlier race start) to fifth place at the flag.

Lyons Snr held second for the first two laps before being slotted back to third and eventually fourth with Belgiorno-Nettis getting closer but still just over two seconds adrift at the flag.

“I could see him making progress, but because he was only a second a lap quicker than I was the gap was too big for him to close,” Lyons Snr said.

One of the reasons was that it had taken the Sydney-based Ferrari driver two full laps to catch and successfully pass the dicing Calven Bonney (Begg 018) and Aaron Burson (McRae GM1).

Class returnee Bonney got the better of Burson at the start but the pair were never more than a couple of car lengths apart with Burson eventually finding a way past on the 10th lap.

“Calven was a bit braver at the start, but I got alongside him one lap and past the next,” said Burson.

Once past Ferrari ace Belgiorno-Nettis then set off after Tony Richards (Lola T332), giving Aaron Burson a lesson in just how quick a turbocharged 1.5 litre Ferrari Formula 1 car can go – with a clear track in front.

“It’s definitely got some wellie!” he said of the exotic ex Michele Alboreto car.”

Tony Richards, meanwhile was just happy to finish the race – and weekend – with his car in one-piece after spinning in front of the field in the first turn at the start of the aborted second race.

“It was definitely a scary moment,” he said. “It’s not much fun going into Turn 1 here backwards watching all the other cars coming towards you. I’m not quite sure what happened; I braked a bit later than Andy Higgins who was next to me bit it didn’t feel like I was going too quick, but it stepped out and I was very lucky everyone was able to avoid me.”

Finally having a – virtually – trouble-free from lights-to-flag was Auckland McRae GM1 driver Alastair Russell who has struggled to complete a race at Hampton Downs for the past two years thanks to various mechanical issues. With a new oil system and overheating issues under control, Russell ended up in eighth place between Aaron Burson and Calven Bonney.

“I’m totally elated, over the moon. We’ve still got some handling issues but the plan now is to get some seat time and see if we can run even further up the field.”

Saturday’s race was won by Michael Lyons from Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, Andrew Higgins, Tony Richards and Frank Lyon.

MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series competitors now head south for the final round on the 2013/14 series at the annual Skope Classic meeting at Christchurch’s recently renamed Mike Pero Motorsport Park (nee Ruapuna) 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, Avon Tyres, Webdesign and Exide.




Birthday boy Michael Lyons (Lola T400) has extended his MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival series winning streak with another lights-to-flag victory at the second New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meeting at Hampton Downs today. But celebrations are on hold until tomorrow night.

“Yes,” said the young British driver who turned 23 day today.”While it’s great to be able to win a race on your birthday I won’t be doing much partying tonight. I’ve got two more races to try and win tomorrow!”

Series young gun Lyons, who won all three races and lowered his own outright track lap record at the first of two NZ Festival meetings at Hampton Downs last weekend, claimed pole for today’s race with the only sub one minute (59.585) qualifying lap and won the 8-lap race from the turbocharged 1985 Ferrari F1 car of special event and MSC F5000 series guest Guido Belgiorno-Nettis.

Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) was the best of the local MSC series drivers in third place with Tony Richards (Lola T332) fourth on his category return and Lyons’ father Frank (Gurney-Eagle FA74) fifth.

After two storming ‘through-the-field’ drives at the first NZ Festival meeting last weekend Auckland driver Clark Proctor (March 75A) was again on form this weekend, joining Michael Lyons on the front row of the grid. However after running a comfortable second to Lyons early on he was a late retirement when his detected something not quite right in his car’s driveline.

“I picked up a bit of a vibration and decided it was safer to pit rather than push on and potentially do something that might take us out of the weekend again,” he said.

After a best placing of sixth at the first NZ Festival of Motor Racing (which this year celebrated the Ferrari marque) Sydney businessman/racer Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (Ferrari 156/85T F1) showed the benefit of track familiarity today, qualifying fourth before spending the first two laps battling for third with Andrew Higgins and the last two closing in on Michael Lyons after Clark Proctor pitted.

“The Formula 5000s have so much torque it is hard to stay with them out of the corners but my car was better from the big sweeper onto the start/finish straight and at the end of the straight into Turn 1,
he explained.

For his part Andrew Higgins said he enjoyed the unique opportunity of dicing with a genuine Formula 1 Ferrari but that in the end it came down to horsepower.

“That thing is just so fast in a straight line – and so it should be – from the hairpin to the end of the start.finish straight it is just gone!” he said.

With a three-lap yellow flag period bunching up the field the margins between cars remained close with plenty of action through the 18-strong field.

Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) and Calven Bonney (Begg 018) enjoyed a particularly spirited dice as they disputed sixth place with Bonney, back in his car after a comprehensive rebuild which took over 18 months, positively beaming when he got back to the pits.

“It’s definitely good to be back and I’m doing better than I thought I would, “he said..

McRae GM1 driver Alastair Russell was another driver in a positive frame of mind, despite having to start from the back row of the grid after failing to post a qualifying time.

Russell spent the race stalking and finally getting the better of fellow McRae GM1 driver Peter Burson and said that – hopefully – he has sorted the oil foaming and pressure issues, that he has been struggling with over the past two seasons.

Disappointed not to get to the flag, meanwhile, was Brett Willis (Lola T330), who had to pull off the track on the last lap with a fuel starvation issue.

Finally, in the MSC F5000 series’ new ‘battle-of-the-brothers’ Christchurch-based Tony Richards (Lola T332) finished fourth his Auckland-based sibling Glenn (Lola T4000) tenth.

.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.




With three-time former series champion Ken Smith (Lola T332) confirming this week that he is out for the rest of the season, young gun Michael Lyons (Lola T400) is in the box seat heading into the third round of the 2013/14 MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series at Hampton Downs this weekend.

Lyons, who turns 23 on Saturday, was pipped for pole at the second round of the MSC series at the first New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meeting at Hampton Downs last weekend by 72-year-old super-vet Smith, but with Smith out (whilst in the lead) early in the first MSC series race when a rod bolt let go and locked the engine, Lyons not only won all three races, he broke his own outright track lap record.

Fellow second generation racer Andrew Higgins, who also drives a Lola T400, ended up best of the rest with two seconds and a fourth and he heads back to Hampton Downs this weekend with every chance of repeating the feat. If there is a dark horse in the field, however, it is high-profile local motor racing identity Clark Proctor (March 73A).

Proctor (aka The Metalman) missed qualifying and the first race last weekend when two teeth broke off the pinion but came back strongly on Sunday, working his way from the back row of the grid to fourth place in the second weekend race in the morning, then from P14 (out of 16) in the feature to second. And that was with brakes which faded badly in both races.

“I don’t know if I’ve quite got the pace to beat Michael,” he said earlier this week, ” but if we can get the brake issue sorted I’ll certainly be giving it my best shot.”

He’ll have to, however, if he is to beat Lyons, because, if he has his way the young British driver will be going even quicker this weekend.

“It’s certainly a shame that Kenny won’t be there,” he said on Thursday, “but we’ve still got a job to do and there are several other guys like Andrew and Clark who I’ve still got to beat., I think it took us a little while to get back into the swing of things, in terms of just getting off the plane and that sort of thing, last weekend so yes, I think there will be a little bit there if I need it this weekend.”

All is not – quite – lost for Smith either. Though he declined the offer of cars to use in place of his own F5000 while the engine is being rebuilt he will still be racing at Hampton Downs this weekend, in one of the other cars he owns, a Swift DB4 Formula Pacific.

Unfortunately, also missing from the MSC F5000 grid this weekend will be Michael Whatley, who had engine issues of his own with his giant-killing Class 2 Surtees TS8 last weekend, and former series champ Ian Clements (Lola T332). Re-joining the field, however is Christchurch driver Tony Richards (Lola T332), meaning that for the first time there will be two siblings (Tony’s Auckland-based brother Glenn made his debut last weekend driving a Lola T400) competing against each other.

Like last weekend there are three races for the MSC NZ F5000s on the NZ Festival of Motor Racing event 2 programme this weekend, with qualifying on Saturday morning and an 8-lap race in the afternoon, then a second 8-lap race on Sunday morning and a 15-lap feature in the afternoon.

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.




Visiting British driver Michael Lyons (Lola T400) completed a winning trifecta of the MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series races on the second day of competition at the first New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing at Hampton Downs today (Sunday Jan 19).

In the continued absence of veteran Kiwi ace Ken Smith (Lola T332) who blew an engine while leading Saturday’s 8-lap encounter, 23-year-old second-generation racer Lyons ran away with both Sunday races, underlining his superiority by lowering his own outright track record from the 59.840 he set in 2012 to the 59.483 he set in the eight lap race in the morning.

In that race Lyons lead Kiwi counterpart Andrew Higgins (the pair in almost identically liveried ‘Viceroy’ cars) from start to finish, crossing the line just over five-and-a-half seconds in front with defending series champion Steve Ross in his newly-liveried (now blue) ‘Quicksilver’ McRae GM1 third and 2012/13 series race winner Clark Proctor (March 73A) making it from the back of the grid (after crown wheel and gearbox problems meant he didn’t start Saturday’s race) to fourth.

Like Saturday’s race Sunday morning’s one had to be re-started, in this case after just the one lap thanks to a coming together between Michael Lyons’ father Frank (Gurney-Eagle FA74) and Grant Martin (Talon MR1A) as the field streamed into the first corner. Lyons was able to continue but Martin couldn’t (damaged rims) and the race was red flagged and re-started.

Class A (for older cars) standout Michael Whatley (Surtees TS8B) again ran third early on before eventually being caught and passed by both Steve Ross and eventually, Clark Proctor. Brett Willis (Lola T330) again ended up best of the mid-field battle-pack in sixth place, ahead of Ian Clements and Frank Lyons, however another coming together saw both Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) and UK visitor Greg Thornton (March 75A) out of the race.

In the 15-lap feature final Michael Lyons was able to further stretch his advantage though this time Clark Proctor made it all the way to second place from P14 (out of 16) on the grid with Steve Ross third and Andrew Higgins slipping back to fourth by the time the flag came out.

Ross went back several places after a half-spin at Turn 1 but was able to gather it up and work his way forward again before the chequered flag was unfurled.

There was disappointment for Michael Whatley, however, the visiting British veteran slowed and eventually stopped as his engine lost power. Brett Willis and Sefton Gibb also failed to finish, the former thanks to a broken throttle linkage, the later a battery issue.

The weekend’s races were the first of a total of six MSC series races which will be contested at Hampton Downs this season with another three at the second New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meeting celebrating Ferrari 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, Avon Tyres, Webdesign and Exide.

2013/14 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series
1. Ken Smith (Lola T332) 59.445
2. Michael Lyons (Lola T400) 59.514
3. Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) 1.00.685
4. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 1.00.844
5. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (Ferrari 156 85T V6 F1) 1.02.063
6. Michael Whatley (Surtees TS8) 1.02.661
7. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 1.02.763
8. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 1.03.245
9. Brett Willis (Lola T330) 1.03.245
10.Greg Thornton (March 75A-1) 1.04.039
11. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 1.04.117
12. Frank Lyons (Gurney-Eagle FA74-01) 1.04.595
13. Grant Martin (Talon MR1A) 1.05.173
14. Calven Bonney (Begg 018) 1.05.538
15. Glenn Richards (Lola T400) 1.06.441
16. Peter Burson (McRae GM1) 1.07.334
17. Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5) 1.10.490
18. Judy Lyons (Lola T332) 1.27.115
19. Clark Proctor (March 73A) (no time)

Race 1 (Sat 8 laps)
1. Michael Lyons 8.44.887
2. Andrew Higgins +1.793
3. Michael Whatley +6.652
4. Brett Willis +7.167
5. Ian Clements +7.285
6. Steve Ross +9.273
7. Frank Lyons +11.795
8. Aaron Burson +12.016
9. Sefton Gibb +13.151
10. Greg Thornton +14.339
11. Grant Martin +17.721
12. Calven Bonney +20.263
13. Glenn Richards +21.881
14. Peter Burson +22.839
15. Judy Lyons +1 lap
16. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis + 2 laps
17. David Banks + 7 laps
dnf. Ken Smith, dns Clark Proctor

Race 2 (Sun 8 laps)
1. Michael Lyons 8.07.893
2. Andrew Higgins +5.675
3. Steve Ross +10.474
4. Clark Proctor +10.916
5. Mike Whatley +18.334
6. Brett Willis +24.704
7. Ian Clements +26.119
8. Frank Lyons +40.501
9. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis +40.679
10. Calven Bonney +40.838
11. Sefton Gibb +57.070
12. Glenn Richards +59.794
13. Peter Burson +60.392
14. Judy Lyons + 2 laps
dnf. Greg Thornton, Aaron Burson, Warwick Mortimer
dns Grant Martin
New lap record: Michael Lyons 59.483

Race 3 (Sun 15 laps)
1. Michael Lyons 15.18.332
2. Clark Proctor +12.420
3. Steve Ross +15.264
4. Andrew Higgins +19.420
5. Greg Thornton +44.199
6. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis +47.875
7. Ian Clements +49.919
8. Frank Lyons + 1 lap
9. Glenn Richards + 1 lap
10. Peter Burson +1 lap
11. Calven Bonney +2 laps
dnf Brett Willis, Warwick Mortimer, Michael Whatley, Sefton Gibb, Judy Lyons





MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series driver Michael Lyons (Lola T400) from the UK extended his winning streak at the Hampton Downs circuit south of Auckland this afternoon – but only after pole-sitter and early race leader Ken Smith (Lola T332) was stopped in his tracks by a blown engine.

The last time he was here – in 2012 – Lyons, 23, set a new outright track lap record of 59.840 seconds and won all six MSC F5000 races at the two New Zealand Festival and Motor Racing meetings at Hampton Downs.

Kiwi super-vet Smith, 72, had his measure in qualifying this morning, however, claiming pole position for today’s first eight-lap MSC NZ F5000 series race with a time of 59.445.

Lyons, who with a best time of 59.514, was the only other driver to break the 1.00.00 minute barrier in the qualifying session, was never far behind early on in the race. But just when it looked like he was going to take a serious tilt at Smith’s lead, guest driver Guido Belgiorno-Nettis in one of the Formula 1 cars shipped in for this year’s Ferrari-themed NZ Festival of Motor Racing event spun and beached itself on a kerb, bringing out the yellow flags, then Smith himself spun and ended up stranded in the middle of the track at the next corner. That brought out the Safety Car then the race was re-flagged so that Smith’s prone car could be recovered.”

“Something went wrong in the engine,” said a circumspect Smith afterwards.”It vibrated then it just locked up, it could be the crank, it could be anything.”

Once the Smith car was recovered the race was re-started with Lyons unchallenged to take the win from fellow Lola T400 driver Andrew Higgins and Class A (for older cars) stand-out Michael Whatley.

“That’s not good news, ” Lyons said when told of Smith engine problem. “It’s a shame too because it was shaping up to be a good race. I couldn’t get anywhere near Ken into Turn 1 but once I was tucked in I was a little bit quicker through the middle-section of the track and I was just getting ready to take the gloves off it and go for it when he stopped.”

Compatriot Michael Whatley was the big mover as far as race places were concerned, the English veteran qualifying sixth, making up two places on the first lap then inheriting third on the last lap when defending series champion Steve Ross (McRae GM1) had a wild ride exiting the final corner.

“Happy with third? I’m absolutely delighted, ” he said. “I got past the Ferrari in the first lap and was just thinking that I should be sensible and settle for fourth when Steve overcooked it on the last lap.”

The re-start also benefited Brett Willis (Lola T330) who passed former MSC series champ Ian Clements (Lola T332) round the outside of Turn 1 on the last lap and held fourth place to the flag. Steve Ross recovered for sixth and Michael Lyons’ father Frank claimed a good seventh in his Gurney-Eagle FA74).

Happy to finally be on the grid and finish their first ever MSC series race, meanwhile, were series newcomers Grant Martin (Talon MR1A) who qualified his new and untested car 13th and finished the first race in 11th position, and fellow Aucklander Glenn Richards (Lola T400) who qualified 15th and finished 13th.

Missing from the grid today, but hoping be be back out tomorrow, was 2012/13 series race winenr Clark Proctor (March 73A), his team running out of time to replace a broken crown wheel and pinion between qualifying and the first race, while able to start the race but still struggling with a gear selection issue was fellow Aucklander David Banks (Talon MR1).

Today’s race was the first of three at the NZFMR meeting with two more tomorrow.

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.




Kiwi Super-vet Ken Smith (Lola T332) showed a stunning turn of speed to dominate the opening round of the 2013/14 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series at Manfeild late last year. But the evergreen 72-year-old will have his work cut out to repeat the feat at the second and third rounds this and next weekend at the two New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meetings at Hampton Downs.

The reason is the return, after a season’s absence, of young UK gun Michael Lyons (Lola T400).

The last time Lyons was here (for three rounds of the 2011/12 MSC series) the 23-year-old second-generation racer from Falsted in Essex set a new outright circuit lap record (59.840) as he completed a rare clean sweep of the (six) MSC F5000 races at the two New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meetings. And he returns on a high after multiple wins in the 2013 FIA Historic Formula 1 championship and finishing sixth in class in the International GT Open European sportscar series behind the wheel of a semi-works Ferrari 458.

“Michael will be the one to beat, that’s for sure,” admitted Smith this week. “He’s very quick and he’s got a lot of experience for his age. I rate him very highly.”

With his father Frank (Eagle FA74), mother Judy (Lola T332) and fellow UK Historic Racing series regulars Mike Whatley (Surtees TS8B) and Greg Thornton (March 75A) Michael Lyons will be one of four MSC visitors to take on top locals Smith, Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) and Clark Proctor (March 73A) from Auckland and defending and now two-time series champion Steve Ross (McRae GM1) from Dunedin.

Lyons Jnr is not the only member of the visiting UK contingent with serious recent Northern Hemisphere historic racing credentials either. Greg Thornton is the current FIA Masters Formula 1 Champion in the Post-1978 class!

It’s three-time former series champion Smith who heads into the Hampton Downs double-header with the lead in the series points standings however, with fellow Manfeild podium finishers Andrew Higgins and Roger Williams (Lola T332) second and third respectively.

Neither Steve Ross nor Clark Proctor were at that meeting, though, and Smith says both also have the ability to take the battle to young gun Lyons this and next weekend, making for what could well be a four-car battle for supremacy – and a new outright track lap record which Smith says could well end up in the high 57/low 58 second bracket.

There will be at least 20 Formula 5000 cars on the grid at each event over the next two weeks which see the return to the MSC series of former Truck racer Calven Bonney in the ex Jim Murdoch Begg 018 and the debut in the Lola T400 initially driven by former Mini and Shellsport ace Reg Cook of car owner Glenn Richards.

Joining Richards on the grid will be his Christchurch-based brother, Tony Richards, and fellow Lola drivers Ian Clements from Christchurch, Sefton Gibb from Napier and Russell Greer from Blenheim (all Lola T332) and Brett Willis (Lola T330) from Rotorua.

Lola will be the best represented marque with 10 cars entered with McRae (Steve Ross, father and son Peter & Aaron Burson, and Alastair Russell in their GM1s) next with four followed by Surtees (Mike Whatley and local man Warwick Mortimer) and March (Greg Thornton and local man Clark Proctor) on two and the New Zealand-made Begg (Calven Bonney) and the US-made Talon (David Banks from Auckland) and Eagle (Frank Lyons) one each.

This year Ferrari is the featured marque at the two New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meetings with more than 130 examples – including three Formula 1 cars. The trio will be demonstrated on both days and though he hasn’t – so far – been asked, Ken Smith says he’d be happy to put one through its paces.

“Nobody’s said anything about it so far,” says Smith, the original ultimate lap record holder at the track,”but yes, if they were handing out rides it would be nice to have a steer.”

There will be three MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series races at each New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing rounds at Hampton Downs with qualifying sessions on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, the first race on Saturday afternoon and two more races on Sunday, one in the morning and the weekend feature in the afternoon.

More information and on-line ticket sales are available on the Festival website http://www.nzfmr.co.nz




It’s been a case of ‘better-late-than-never’ for Talon MR1 owner/driver David Banks, the 50-year-old Auckland businessman who joined the MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series three seasons ago in the ex-Jon Woodner Talon MR1.

There’s a strong ‘Kiwi’ connection to the American Talon marque, legendary New Zealand driver/constructor Graham McRae licensing the rights to his successful GM2 design to the man behind it, American Jack McCormack.

According to Banks, five Talons were built, three MR1s and two MR1As. The car Banks bought is the original, chassis 74-07-1 and is now the only MR1 in existence.

“They changed the configuration slightly when they were building the MR1As and converted two of the three MR1s to the new specification at the same time.”

Why they didn’t convert the original one is open to conjecture but Banks thinks it might be because that car was ‘down under’ being used by Kiwi F1 great Chris Amon in 1975 Tasman Series.

“There are no guarantees (as to authenticity) but ours was never converted and the only thing we can pin it down to to is that it wasn’t around when they were building the MR1As because it was down here doing the Tasman Series.”

Banks credits good friend and fellow MSC series regular Peter Burson for his decision to buy a car – in particular a Talon – and get behind the wheel himself.

“I remember the cars from the first time around but not even in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d own let alone drive one but Peter and I have been mates for many, many years and he kept saying to me, ‘I’ll give you a drive one day in my car. Of course, I was always saying yeah, yeah, yeah….come on come on come, then one day he did and if you ask my wife Brenda the smile didn’t leave my face for a week.”

The car that Peter drove was the Talon MR1A originally imported by local class and historic racing identity Tony Roberts and subsequently bought by the Burson family for son Aaron to drive.

It obviously made quite an impression on David because that was what he went looking for when he decided to buy a car of his own and that’s what he found – thanks again to Peter Burson – for sale in the United States.

“Peter turned up one night,” says David, ” and said, ‘you’re not going to believe this but I’ve just found the only other Talon which is running in the world…'”

Soon after that car was on its way to New Zealand and now David is not only one of the category regulars, he has had a best finish of fifth (in a Lady Wigram Trophy race no less) and last season finished fifth in the series points standings.

Though business (he owns automotive parts supplier SAS) and family remain his main priorities David says that buying a car and joining the MSC series is one of the best things he has ever done.

“What do I like about? Everything! I love hanging on and focusing on what I am doing when I am out on the track, I love the camaraderie with the other drivers on and off the track, and I’ve got a great young guy in Steve Webster who helps me, so between he and I we do pretty much do the whole thing.”


British young gun Michael Lyons leading top Kiwi MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series drivers Clark Proctor, Steve Ross and Ken Smith at Hampton Downs two years ago. And David Banks and his Talon MR1. Photo credit: Fast Company/Alex Mitchell

2013/14 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series
Points after Rnd 1 of 4
1. Ken Smith (Lola T332) 124
2. Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) 112
3. Roger Williams (Lola T332) 104
4. Brett Willis (Lola T330) 88
5. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 87
6. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 86
7. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 82
8. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 62
9. Peter Burson (McRae GM1) 35
10=. Alan Dunkley (Lola T140) 21
10=. David Banks (Talon MR1) 21
12. Tim Rush (McLaren M22) 1

Class A
1. Alan Dunkley (Lola T140) 32


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