But if anything the wily veteran's performance in his freshly rebuilt Lola has served only to increase the motivation for closest rivals Steve Ross, the McRae GM1-driving defending MSC series champion from Dunedin, and former Speedway champion and NZV8s front-runner Clark Proctor who was the quickest qualifier at last weekend's meeting in his March 73A-1.

"He (Smith) was good in the real tight stuff and a wee bit at the beginning of the loop but in a straight line I've probably got a smidgeon on him so we'll just have to see what happens this weekend," said Ross, who qualified third but twice finished second to Smith in the MSC races.

In only his second season in the MSC series, however, it was Proctor  who really put the cat amongst the pigeons on Saturday, pipping both Smith and Ross for pole position. And though it was Smith who won the races, Proctor - aka The Metalman - was happy both with the pace of his March and his ability to take the battle to the considerably more experienced Smith and Ross.

"My plan (in the 15-lap feature final) was to let them both go because I wanted to learn my car a bit more and we had purposefully set our tyre pressures down quite a bit figuring that we'd be pretty much on the money later on which we were because we managed to pull them back in pretty quickly, so a couple of more laps and it would have been an interesting scenario," he said this week.

With 25 cars qualifying and close, exciting racing throughout the field the three MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series races were some of the best on the packed NZ Festival of Motor Racing - celebrating Denny Hulme programme last weekend.

This weekend there are three more with only slight changes to the field.

Back on the grid after missing last weekend's races will be David Arrowsmith (Lotus 70) from Christchurch, Russell Greer (Lola T32) from Blenheim, and Bruce Leeson (McLaren M10B) from the United States. While after running his Lola T332-based Frisbee Can-Am car last weekend former series champion Ian Clements from Christchurch will be back behind the wheel of his Lola T332 single-seater this weekend.

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, Avon Tyres and Exide. It continues at the annual Skope Classic meeting at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park next weekend.