SMITH BACK TO LEAD MSC F5000 FIELD AT HAMPTON DOWNS MEETINGS

Smith, who turned 70 this year, broke a bone in his left foot in an accident in the second race at the second round of the 2011/12 MSC series at Manfeild in November but is already off crutches and expects to lose the moon boot he has been wearing since then just after Christmas.

The Lola T332 which Smith and long-time crew chief Barry Miller had only finished re-building the week before the opening round of this season's MSC series, was written off in the accident so Smith will revert to the later model Lola T430 he has used to win the past three MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series for the remainder of the 2011/12 season.

In all his 54 consecutive seasons of national level motor racing in this country Smith has only had three, what he terms 'serious' accidents, and the one at Manfeild was the first in which he broke a bone.

Despite that he and Miller are working on re-building the T332 and Smith will drive not one but two cars - the T430 Formula 5000 and a Formula Pacific Swift DB4 - at the two Hampton Downs meetings.

"And I'll tell you what," he said this week. "I can't wait. I'm itching to get back behind the wheel."

Joining him in the MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series races at the two Hampton Downs meetings will be 36 other drivers, including Canadian Hamish Somerville (Lola T400) and - for the first time - a three-man contingent from the United States.

Somerville is the second Canadian to join the MSC series, Jay Esterer (McRae GM1) having been a regular visitor now for several years. However, bar US-based Australian driver Bruce Leeson who travelled here two years ago to compete in the inaugural New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing - Bruce McLaren meetings, US drivers have been conspicuous by their absence.

That situation has been addressed this year by three members of the group which runs a series for F5000 cars in the United States, Seb Coppola, Harin DeSilva and Eric Haga.

All three run early model (Class A) cars, Coppola a Lola T192, Haga a Lola T190 and DeSilva a Surtees TS-8.

Haga joins Ken Smith in enjoying the rare distinction of having raced F5000 single-seaters first-time round, and as well as that is bringing with him the very same car he drove in 11 races in the US in the 1970 season!

Also travelling from overseas for the two meetings are series regulars Greg Thornton (Chevron B24), Mark Dwyer (Lola T400), Mike Whatley (Surtees TS8 and Lola T300), and Frank (Gurney Eagle FA74-01), Judy (Lola T332) and Michael (Lola T400) Lyons from the UK, plus South Australian John Bryant (Lola T140) and Melbourne-based expat Chris Lambden (McRae GM1) from across the Tasman.

Joining the series for the first time this season, meanwhile, are a number of local drivers including Calven Bonney (Begg 018), Alastair Russell (McRae GM1), Kerry McIntosh (Begg FM2), Peter Sundberg (Lola T332), Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5) and Clark Proctor (March 73A-1).

The popular Hampton Downs meetings will also see the return of Aucklander Roger Williams, whose Lola T332 was damaged in the start-line accident at Manfeild, and the series debuts of a newly rebuilt McLaren M10B in the hands of long-time series supporter Poul Christie and a Lola T140 to be driven by former kart and Suzuki Swift Cup driver Alan Dunkley (Lola T140).

Leading the points standings heading into the two rounds is Steve Ross from Dunedin (McRae GM1), followed by Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) from Auckland, Russell Greer (Lola T332) from Blenheim, Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) from Napier, this season's Lady Wigram Trophy winner Jay Esterer (McRae GM1), 2011/12 series newcomers Dave Arrowsmith (Lotus 70) from Christchurch and David Banks (Talon MR1) from Auckland, Brett Willis (Lola T330) from Rotorua, Aaron Burson's father Peter in his McRae GM1, fellow Aucklanders Stu Lush (McRae GM1), John Mackinlay (March 73A-2) and Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400), Feilding young gun Tim Rush (McLaren M22) and Stan Redmond (Lola T332) and David Abbott (Lola T430) from Christchurch.

Jay Esterer's car was another damaged in the start-line shunt at Manfeild but the Canadian has shipped it back to his base in Edmonton for repairs and is flying out his second car (another McRae GM1) for the remaining 2011/12 MSC series rounds here in New Zealand and Australia.

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.

For more information about the two NZ Festival of Motor Racing - Chris Amon meetings go to http://www.nzfmr.co.nz/.

Ends

2010/11 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series
Points after Rnd 2 of 6
1. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 169 points
2. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 151
3. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 138
4. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 131
5. Jay Esterer (McRae GM1) 129
6. Dave Arrowsmith (Lotus 70) 117
7. David Banks (Talon MR1) 111
8. Brett Willis (Lola T300) 101
9=. Tony Richards (Lola T332) 87
9=. Peter Burson (McRae GM1) 87
11. Greg Thornton (Chevron B24) 82
12. Ken Smith (Lola T332) 76
13. Stu Lush (McRae GM1) 73
14. Roger Williams (Lola T332) 72
15. Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) 63
16. John Mackinlay (March 73A-2) 53
17. Tim Rush (Begg FM4) 49
18. Stan Redmond (Lola T332) 47
19. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 39

Class A
1. Dave Arrowsmith 181
2. Tim Rush 75

Calendar
Rnd 1: Nov 05/06 2011 Wigram Revival meeting, Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch
Rnd 2: Nov 12-13 2011 MG Classic Manfeild Feilding
Rnd 3: Jan 21-22 2012 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - BMW meeting x 1 Hampton Downs Auckland
Rnd 4: Jan 28-29 2012 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - BMW meeting x 2 Hampton Downs Auckland
Rnd 5: Feb 04/05 2012 Skope Classic meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch
Rnd 6: March 09-11 2012 Phillip Island Classic meeting Phillip Island Victoria Australia