Event Preview Round 4 2010/11 MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series

Last time Kiwi super vet Ken Smith (Lola T430) competed at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park he had a dream run, earning himself a record-equaling fourth Lady Wigram Trophy with pole position in qualifying and victory in each MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series race.

This weekend he returns to contest the fourth round of the 2010/11 MSC series at the annual Skope Classic meeting with a real battle on his hands.

Smith, the defending MSC series champion, forced his way past Mark Dwyer (Lola T400) to win the only race to be contested at the first rain-lashed Festival of New Zealand Motor Racing - Chris Amon at the Hampton Downs circuit near Auckland a fortnight ago.

But at the second meeting, held in more benign conditions at Hampton Downs last weekend, pole went to visiting Monaco-based British driver Peter Dunn (March 73A) and all three races were won by one of the other overseas entrants, Canadian Jay Esterer (McRae GM1).

Smith did set the fastest lap time in the opening qualifying session, but broke an input shaft in the top 20 session, meaning he missed out on a chance to go even quicker in the Top 10 Shootout.

The 1.01.881 time he set in the Top 20 session was still good enough to give him P10 on the grid for the first race but after working his way up to fourth in the first race, then finishing a close second to Esterer in the second, any hopes Smith had of finally getting the better of the quick Canadian were dashed in the third when he had to pit for a new wheel and tyre after contact as he lapped Poul Christie (Lola T190).

With usual sparring partner Steve Ross (McRae GM1) having problems of his own over the weekend, Smith still has a healthy lead in the MSC series points standings. But with just two rounds of the popular trans-Tasman MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series to go - the penultimate one at Invercargill in a fortnight and the final at the Qantas Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne in March - the wily veteran knows the pressure is on him this weekend.

Not just from Esterer either. Series young gun Michael Lyons (Lola T400) showed real race-winning potential at Hampton Downs last weekend, coming back from a car-bending dnf in the first race to cross the finish line fifth in the second and a weekend-best second - after wrestling the lead of Esterer on several occasions - in the third.

Compatriot Mark Dwyer has also shown plenty of pace, as has series newcomer, Clark Proctor, the former Stock Car champion and more recently NZV8s and Targa Rally front-runner who bought a March 73A on the eve of the first New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meeting.

And no mention of the second NZ Festival of Motor Racing - Chris Amon meeting would be complete without reference to the giant-killing antics of Michael Whatley behind the wheel of one of the oldest cars in the field, a Surtees TS8.

A member of the six-strong group of visiting drivers from the UK, Whatley is 19th overall in the series points standings but has a commanding lead over class stalwart Poul Christie in the Class A category thanks to a barn-storming performance at the second Hampton Downs meeting which saw him finish as high as eighth in one of the races.

This weekend a 23-strong MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series field heads a packed programme with races for classic and historic single-seaters, sportscars and saloons. After a 20 minute qualifying session on Saturday morning there will be three races for the MSC cars, the first of two eight lap sprint preliminaries on Saturday afternoon, the second on Sunday morning then a final over 12 laps on Sunday 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, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide.


2010/11 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Series points after Rnd 3 of 6
1. Ken Smith (Lola T430) 141 points
2. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 101
3. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 87
4. Jay Esterer (McRae GM1) 85
5. Peter Dunn (March 73A) 73
6. Mick Lyons (Lola T400) 71
7. Tony Richards (Lola T332) 70
8. Clark Proctor (March 73A) 60
9. Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) 52
10=. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 49
10=. Reg Cook (Lola T400) 49
12=. Mark Dwyer (Lola T400) 41
12=. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 41
14. Brett Willis (Lola T330) 39
15=. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 31
15=. Frank Lyons (Gurney-Eagle FA74) 31
15=. Ron Maydon (Amon F1010 F1) 31
18. David Abbott (Lola T430) 15
19. Michael Whatley (Surtees TS8) 13
20=. Tony Roberts (March 73A-1) 10
20=. Roger Williams (Lola T332) 10
22=. Peter Burson (McRae GM1) 9
22=. Greg Thornton (Chevron B32) 9
24=. Alastair Russell (McRae GM1) 6
24=. Peter Sundberg (Lola T332) 6
26=. Poul Christie (Lola T190) 5
26=. Hamish Paterson (Chevron B32) 5
28=. Stu Lush (McRae GM1) 4
28=. Kerry McIntosh (Begg FM2) 4
28=. Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5) 4
31. Stan Redmond (Lola T332) 3

Class A
1. Michael Whatley (Surtees TS8) 85 points
2. Poul Christie (Lola T190) 39
3=. Kerry McIntosh (Begg FM2) 38
3=. Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5) 38

Rnd 1: Oct 30/31 2010 Christchurch Casino Wigram revival meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch
Rnd 2: Jan 21-23 2011 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - Chris Amon meeting x 1 Hampton Downs Auckland
Rnd 3: Jan 28-30 2011 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - Chris Amon meeting x 2 Hampton Downs Auckland
Rnd 4: Feb 05/06 2011 Skope Classic meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch
Rnd 5: Feb 19-20 2011 Evolution Motorsport Classic Speedfest meeting, Teretonga Park Invercargill
Rnd 6 (Final) March 25-27 2011 Qantas Australian Grand Prix March Albert Park Melbourne, Australia