Event Preview - Rnd 3 2009/10 MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series

The battle between Dunedin's Steve Ross and Christchurch's Chris Hyde (both McRae GM1) for the points lead at the half-way stage of this season's MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series will be a feature of the programme at the inaugural New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing - Bruce McLaren meeting at the new Hampton Downs motor racing circuit in the northern Waikato this weekend.

After two rounds, the latest at the annual Lady Wigram Trophy meeting at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park a fortnight ago, series newcomer Ross leads the points standings with 130 points, six more than 2007/08 series champion Hyde and 12 more than former series champion Christchurch's Ian Clements (Lola T332).

This season's internationally-recognised trans-Tasman series, which has again attracted entries from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, started with a flourish at Manfeild in the Manawatu in November last year with Hyde - this year behind the wheel of Aucklander Stu Lush's McRae GM1 after a sabbatical over the 2008/09 season - qualifying quickest and winning all three races.

It was Ross who was quickest in qualifying at the second round however, the former tin-top front-runner in only his second season behind the wheel of a classic F5000 single-seater, going on to win the first race and claim podium positions (third in the second and second in the Lady Wigram Trophy final) in the other two.

With both defending MSC series champion Ken Smith (Lola T430) and Lady Wigram Trophy winner Roger Williams (Lola T332) missing the first round at Manfeild, Ross is now in the box seat heading into the next two rounds which see fields of over 30 set to start the three races.

Having won the race for a third time in his long and successful career last year, Smith went into the Lady Wigram Trophy round joint favourite with Chris Hyde. But the evergreen Auckland veteran now in his 51st season of national level motorsport in this country was an early retirement from the feature trophy race when a lower front balljoint in his car's suspension failed.

With just the points from the first two races he is languishing in 10th place in the series points standings.

Lady Wigram Trophy race winner Roger Williams is in a similar position, though with points from three races he shares fifth-equal place with Russell Greer (Lola T332) and Brett Willis (Lola T330).

In the Class A category for earlier model F5000 cars it is Feilding driver Tim Rush (Begg FM4) who leads the way with 166 points, 16 more than Auckland's Poul Christie (Lola T190) and 26 more than Auckland's Kerry McIntosh (Begg FM2).

Rush made the most of his home track advantage at the first round of the 2009/10 series at Manfeild but Christie, McIntosh and Kerry Anderson (Lola T142) closed right up at the Lady Wigram Trophy meeting in Christchurch, Rush only just beating a fired up McIntosh to the line in the final, the margin a blink-and-you-would-have-missed-it 0.265 of a second!

This weekend's New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing - Bruce McLaren meeting is the first of two (the second is at Pukekohe's Pukekohe Park Raceway over the January 30-31 weekend) with both attracting bumper entries across all categories including the MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series.

Set to join series regulars like Smith, Williams, Ross, Clements et al on the grids are a number of fellow Kiwis - Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5), Calven Bonney (Begg 018) and Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) - plus a number of competitors from around the world.

Heading north after making their New Zealand debut at the Lady Wigram Trophy meeting are Australians Paul Trevethan (Elfin MR6L), Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8 AC) and Phillip Lewis (Matich A50), and Monaco-based British driver Peter Dunn (March 73A).

Joining Dunn in a large British contingent competing at the two Festival meetings are Mark Dwyer (Lola T332), Daryl Taylor (Chevron B28), Mike Whatley (Surtees TS8), Greg Thornton (Surtees TS11), husband and wife Frank (McLaren M26 F1 car) and Judy (Gurney-Eagle FA74) Lyons, journalist Marcus Pye (Lola T400) and expat Kiwi Grant Clearwater (McLaren M10B).

Also behind the wheel of a McLaren M10B this and next weekend will be Bruce Lesson from the United States.

The MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series category is one of 10 on the programme at the two New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing - Bruce McLaren meetings.

A special feature of both meetings will be the focus on the McLaren marque with lunchtime parades on Saturday and Sunday at each meeting. Racing starts at 9.00am each day at each meeting.

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, Pacifica, Toll Holdings, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide.