NEW ZEALAND CLASSIC CAR NATIONWIDE NEWS Tasman Cup Revival
By winning New Zealand’s MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series for a third time, Dunedin driver Steve Ross (Mcrae GM1) has joined a select group of multi–time title holders.
Series original Ian Clements (Lola T332) from Christchurch, was the first to win the MSC title three times — in 2003/04, 2005/06 and 2006/07 — and 73-year-old Ken Smith (Lola T430 and now T332) was the second, and the only one to do it (from 2008/09 to 2010/2011) in consecutive years.
This year’s series was the 12th, with three other drivers — Christchurch pair Murray Sinclair (04/05) and Chris Hyde (07/08), and Aucklander Andrew Higgins (13/14) joining Clements, Smith and Ross as title winners.
This year’s title chase was again a true trans-tasman affair with two rounds in Australia and four in New Zealand.
Melbourne’s Sandown circuit hosted the opening round in early November, Sydney Motorsport Park (formerly Eastern Creek) the second later that month.
The series then resumed with the two ‘World Series’ rounds at the Gulf Oil-sponsored Howden Ganley F5000 Festival meetings at Hampton Downs in January, the penultimate round at the Skope Classic meeting in Christchurch in early February, and the final a week later at the 60th annual New Zealand Grand Prix meeting at Manfeild.
Icing on the Cake
There was a 50-point bonus for anyone who contested all six rounds; the icing on the cake for Ross, whose winning margin was an impressive 252 points over eventual second place-getter, Russell Greer (Lola T332) from Blenheim, and a further 60 over Ken Smith (Lola T332) in third.
Though he chose not to cross the Tasman (or Cook Strait) this season, Smith was ensured a place on the series’ podium by winning every race he started, being unbeaten at both Gulf Oil Festival rounds at Hampton Downs, then breaking his own category lap record on the way to three more wins from three starts at the Manfeild final.
In his absence Sydney-based young gun Tom Tweedie (Chevron B24) took on the role of man-to-beat at the two Australian rounds, though a quick start saw Steve Ross take a race win off him at Sandown, and Clark Proctor (March 73A/1) claim pole and win the first race at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Like Ross, Proctor committed to do the early season rounds, but after a sticking throttle forced him out of the third race at the first Hampton Downs meeting, gearbox issues at the second meeting effectively ended his campaign early.