Defending MSC series title-holder Ross from Dunedin beat Melbourne man Sala and second quickest qualifier Ken Smith (Lola T430) from Auckland into Turn 1 at the beginning of the six-lap race at the recently revamped, extended and re-named Sydney Motorsport Park (nee Eastern Creek) venue. As Sala and Smith squabbled over second place Ross even managed to edge away from the pair.

Once Sala managed to shake off Smith - who, as it turned out, was struggling with gear selection issues - however, he was able to reel Ross in and pull off a daring dive for the lead at the circuit's downhill hairpin on the last lap.

"Kenny actually put the same move on me on the second lap, but that time we ran round side by side and I stayed in front," Sala said afterwards.

"Once I caught up on Steve I could see he was struggling there a bit the lap before but I was too far back. The next lap was the last lap so when we came round again I knew it was now or never. The right front tyre locked up half way through the move but Steve gave me just enough room and we got through without touching which was obviously good."

Ross took the move with good grace, admitting that he had 'messed up' in the tight new section of track immediately before the hairpin, but still getting a surprise when he went to turn in.

"The first thing I knew about it was when he (Sala) was alongside me with smoke pouring off his tyres," he laughed. "He was pretty committed - we both were - but that's OK, I gave him some room. We both went out a long way but we both got round alright. The only problem was, by that stage, he was in front!"

Sala was not exactly hanging around on that last, eventful lap, setting a new category lap record for the new 'long' circuit of 1 min 50.2739, just over half a second quicker than the time that earned him pole position in qualifying, 1 min 50.8249.

The hairpin move on Ross was not the only one to change the final running order either, Auckland driver Roger Williams (Lola T332) also getting past Smith - whose car was by now jumping out of fifth gear - within sight of the chequered flag for third place.

Behind Sala, Ross, Williams and Smith, Melbourne-domiciled expat Chris Lambden started and finished fifth while Blenheim driver Russell Greer (Lola T332) got a great start to lead last season's MSC series runner-up Aaron Burson for sixth only to run out of petrol after three laps, allowing Burson, Australian Darcy Russell (Lola T300) and Aucklander Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) all to move up a place in the running order.

Christchurch series stalwart Stan Redmond qualified his newly restored and race-prepared ex-Warwick Brown Lola T333CS 12th on its long-awaited circuit return but ended his race in the pits, while fellow driver David Abbott crossed the finish line 11th after being forced to start off the back of the grid after failing to set a qualifying time thanks to a broken half shaft in practice then a magneto issue as his car was readied for qualifying.

Aucklander David Banks, in his second season in the MSC series, was the final member of the Kiwi contingent to finish the race, in 10th position just behind Australian Bill Hemmings (Elfin MR8) and in front of Abbott.

Clark Proctor (March 73A) made the trip from Auckland with the New Zealand contingent but only got as far as practice on Friday before engine issues sidelined him for the weekend.

Adelaide driver John Bryant (Lola T140) was also a non-starter thanks to crown wheel and pinion issues though local MSC series newcomer Rod Carroll had a good debut in his similar car, qualifying and finishing the first race in 13th position.

Compatriots Aaron Lewis (Matich A50) and Andrew Kluver (Lola T300) qualified for the race but problems with their cars meant they didn't get to start it.

Today's 6-lap race was one of three for the MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series field at the Muscle Car Masters meeting with another 6-lapper tomorrow (Sunday) morning and a 12-lap feature final in the afternoon.

A special highlight on Sunday will be champion Australian category original Warwick Brown re-united with one of the cars he originally drove, the Lola T333CS now owned and driven by Stan Redmond.

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.

2012/13 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Rnd 1 2012 Australian Muscle Car Masters meeting Sydney Motorsport Park Sydney Sat-Sun Sept 01-02 2012
1. Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) 1:50.8249*
2. Ken Smith (Lola T430) 1:50.8586
3. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 1:51.1846
4. Roger Williams (Lola T332) 1:52.7058
5. Chris Lambden (McRae GM1) 1:53.2025
6. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 1:55.1800
7. Russell Greer (Lola T332)1:56.5937
8. Darcy Russell (Lola T330) 1:56.8319
9. David Banks (Talon MR1) 1:58.6802
10. Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) 2:00.5515
11. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8) 2:00.9172
12. Stan Redmond (Lola T333) 2:05.0453
13. Rod Carroll (Lola T140) 2:08.3975
14. Jay Bondini (Lola T332) 2:09.2789
15. Aaron Lewis (Matich A50) 2:36.8582
16. Andrew Kluver (Lola T300) 3:15.5289
17. David Abbott (Lola T430) no time

Race 1 (6 laps)
1. Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) 11:15.5011
2. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 11:15.9585
3. Roger Williams (Lola T332) 11:24.3676
4. Ken Smith (Lola T430)11:24.3880
5. Chris Lambden (McRae GM1) 11:44.2528
6. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 11:44.4473
7. Darcy Russell (Lola T330) 11:54.4631
8. Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) 12:05.7751
9. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8) 12:13.3133
10. David Banks (Talon MR1) 12:13.7076
11. David Abbott (Lola T430) 12:24.7496
12. Jay Bondini (Lola T332) 13:03.2248
13. Rod Carroll (Lola T140) 12:04.7287
DNF. Russell Greer (Lola T332), Stan Redmond (Lola T333) 3 laps
New category lap record: Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) 1:50.2739R