2009/10 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Season Preview #2

The news just gets better and better for the many fans of the Formula 5000 racing cars which contested the Tasman Series in the late 1970s.

At least 20 are set to contest the first round of the 2009/10 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival series at Feilding's Manfeild circuit in just over a month's time. While as many as 47 of the crowd-pleasing V8-engined classics are set to line up for at least two of the subsequent rounds.

The bumper numbers come from two distinct sources - a healthy increase in the numbers of cars based here in New Zealand, and an unprecedented number coming from overseas for the two 'New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing - celebrating Bruce McLaren' meetings at the new Hampton Downs circuit in the north Waikato and Pukekohe Park Raceway over consecutive meetings in late January.

The inaugural festival hosts two of the six rounds of this season's MSC series with the 30+ strong New Zealand contingent set to be joined by as many as 20 visiting drivers, with the numbers split fairly evenly between Australia and the UK.

Further good news has come from Australia - with final confirmation of the dates and place on the programme for the MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series cars at the bi-ennial VHRR Phillip Island Classic meeting at Phillip Island in Victoria on March 20 and 21 2010, and the FORMULA 1™ ING Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in downtown Melbourne the weekend later.

Last season the MSC series attracted 24 drivers from New Zealand, eight from Australia, four from the UK and one each from the United States and Canada. And with all the local regulars including 2008/09 MSC series winner Ken Smith, runner-up Tony Richards and third-placed Aaron Burson committed to returning, the New Zealand-based series will be one of the best supported classic OR contemporary series running over the 2009/10 summer motor racing season.

Helping swell the number of local cars are several well-credentialled newcomers, amongst them former ShellSport saloon racer Peter Sundberg from Auckland, well-known classic saloon competitor Warwick Mortimer from Matakana north of Auckland, V8 Sports Sedan racer Brett Willis from Rotorua and former Truck and SuperGT racer (not to mention keen series supporter) Calven Bonney from Auckland.

Sundberg has bought the ex Kevin Bartlett and Johnnie Walker 1979 Australian Grand Prix-winning Lola T332 off series regular Stan Redmond and will run it in its original (Bartlett) Chesterfield colours.

Mortimer, whose own career pedigree also goes back to saloon cars and the 1970s, has imported an early Surtees TS5 from the UK, Willis has just had a Lola T330 fully rebult by Christchurch specialist Motorsport Solutions, and Bonney has bought the last of the locally-made Beggs, the 018 orginally driven by Jim Murdoch, and more recently owned and raced by Christchurch's Phil Mauger and Invercargill's Noel Atley.

Also in new cars for the 2009/10 season will be Stan Redmond, who is busy preparing a late model T333CS used by Warwick Brown to win the Rothmans International Series in Australia in 1978, as well as Aucklander Aaron Burson, Dunedin man Steve Ross, young Feilding driver Tim Rush amd 2007/08 MSC series champion Chris Hyde.

Burson and Ross have both bought McRae GM1s, Burson the car Canadian Jay Esterer raced in the MSC series last season, Ross the one Christchurch's Chris Hyde used to win the 2007/08 MSC title, while Rush has bought rare McLaren M22 off Aucklander Tony Roberts.

Hyde will also be behind the wheel of a McRae GM1, but this time it is the one series regular Stu Lush from Auckland has been running for the past four years.

Tony Roberts and respected New Zealand race engineer Duncan Fox have played a key role in 'seeding' the MSC series, having first bought and put back on the grid the Talon MR1A Aaron Burson has raced for the past two seasons, then the McLaren M22 Roberts himself has driven.

The sale of that car is part of a continuing process, the pair already hard at work on its replacement, a McLaren M10B. Friend and business partner Chris Watson is also playing his part, having bought another rare car, an Australian-made Gardos for use in the MSC series.

Joining these New Zealand-based car-driver combinations at the the two New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing - celebrating Bruce McLaren meetings will be as many as 10 combinations from the UK, seven from Australia and at least one from the United States.

From the UK are regular MSC series visitors Frank and Judy Lyons and their son Mick (Lola T332, Eagle FA74 and Lola T400 respectively), plus 2008/09 series visitor Mark Dwyer (Lola T332) and first time New Zealand visitors Peter Dunn (March 73A), Neil Glover (Lola T330), Daryl Taylor (Chevron B28), Greg Thornton (Surtees TS11) and Michael Whatley (Surtees TS8).

Helping to bolster the number of McLaren cars being shipped in for the two New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing - celebrating Bruce McLaren meeting, meanwhile, are two more McLarens cars, the M10B of American driver Bruce Leeson (who contested the three Australian rounds of the MSC series last season) and the M10B of UK-based Kiwi Grant Clearwater.

Finally, helping to keep the field numbers over 40 for the final two series rounds across the Tasman will be as many as 11 Australian-based car/driver combinations; Aaron Lewis (Chevron B24/28), Andrew Robson (Lola T332), D'arcy Russell (Lola T330), Graham Smith (March 73A), Phillip Lewis (Matich A50), Ken James (Elfin MR8C), Paul Trevethan (Elfin MR6 L), Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8A-C), Bob Harborow (Lola T192), Tony Floreani (Elfin MR5) and John Bryant (Lola T140).

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