Action-packed Lady Wigram Trophy

Aucklander Roger Williams (Lola T332) is the latest in a long and distinguished line of Lady Wigram Trophy holders after winning an incident-packed Christchurch Casino Lady Wigram trophy feature race at the second round of the 2009/10 MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series races at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park on Sunday afternoon.

Three-time Lady Wigram Trophy winner Ken Smith (Lola T430) from Auckland and 2007/08 MSC series champion, local man Chris Hyde (McRae GM1), were joint favourites to win this year's 16-lap Lady Wigram Trophy feature race at the 2010 Christchurch Casino Lady Wigram trophy meeting - but both struck problems.

Smith - who joined race two winner Hyde on the front row of the grid for the final - was swamped at the start when he missed a gearchange, got caught up in a first lap clash between Lola T332 drivers Sefton Gibb and Tony Richards, and was finally forced out by a broken front right hand balljoint. Hyde meanwhile, was slowed and finally stopped by a battery problem.

After two relatively uneventful sprint races on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning the Lady Wigram Trophy feature was real thrill-a-minute stuff with Hyde getting the initial jump on quickest weekend qualifier and race one winner Steve Ross (McRae GM1) with eventual race winner Williams slotting into third place in front of former series champion Ian Clements (Lola T332) then a gap to Australian driver Aaron Lewis (Matich A50), Tony Richards (Lola T332) and Aaron Burson (McRae GM1).

Richards was soon in the pits for a drive-through penalty for his part in the clash with Sefton Gibb but the real drama came four laps later when the race was red-flagged after a sticking throttle saw Australian driver Ken James (Elfin MR8C) ran off the track and into the tyre wall which skirts the circuit's high speed sweeper.

Just before the red flag came out Steve Rosshad actually inherited the lead from Hyde after a rapidly draining battery started slowing Hyde's car but Hyde was handed a second chance when the race was stopped.

That chance lasted less than two laps when the race was re-started however with Ross soon back in front from Williams, Clements, Lewis, and Monaco-based British driver Peter Dunn (March 73A) line astern.

Any chance class newcomer Ross had of taking the Lady Wigram Trophy home with him to Dunedin were dashed however when class stalwart Williams closed in and grabbed a lead he would never lose at the hairpin with three laps to go.

"You have one chance at these things, don't you, " class stalwart Williams said afterwards. "I could have sat back and taken second place.....but in a situation like that you're always going to have a go aren't you? So I did!"

Before his Lady Wigram Trophy victory MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series regular Williams' most memorable result in 10 years racing the 70s era stock block V8 powered single-seater Formula 5000 cars was a round win at Sandown in Melbourne.

The Lady Wigram Trophy win has eclipsed that however, Williams rating it as the highlight of his career so far.

"I'm rapt, " he said. "Really rapt. To come here with such a big field and to come away with the win. Fantastic!"

Joining Williams on the podium after the race were Ross and former series champion Ian Clements, with young Auckland driver Aaron Burson a weekend-best fourth after a strong race in which he crossed the line a half a second ahead of a recovering Tony Richards, Blenheim's Russell Greer (Lola T332) sixth and local man David Abbott in the sister car to Ken Smith's seventh.

A little further back just 0.265 of a second was the margin as Feilding young gun Tim Rush succeeded in a desperate last lap, last corner bid to wrest the Class A (for older F5000 cars) from fellow Begg driver Kerry McIntosh.

Rush was first Class A driver home in Saturday's race but had to concede the class win in the second race to Aucklander Poul Christie (Lola T190). McIntosh looked a likely winner in the Lady Wigram Trophy race too until Rush got the bit between his teeth and won a drag race from the final corner to the finish line.