SMITH ALL THE WAY AT MANFEILD

Now 72 and in his 56th consecutive season of national level single seater motor racing in this country, Smith was a cut above the rest of the 13-strong MSC F500 Tasman Cup Revival Series field on the first day of competition at the annual The Sound MG Classic motor racing meeting, qualifying almost two-and-a half seconds quicker than fellow front row starter Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) and leading the first 8 lap race of the weekend from start to finish. 

Fellow Aucklander Higgins, one of the many young drivers Smith has assisted over the years, maintained second place to the flag but it was clearly his mentor's day, the margin at the flag 9.7 seconds. 

Behind him it was closer with former Lady Wigram Trophy winner Roger Williams (Lola T332) snatching third place from former MSC series champion Ian Clements (Lola T332) on the first lap but chased hard to the flag by Clements and Brett Willis (Lola T330). 

After one of his best qualifying efforts since joining the MSC series, Russell Greer (driving the ex Graeme Lawrence Lola T332) was part of this chase pack early on, only to be forced out by a gear selection issue on the fourth lap. 

That left Clements and Willis to fight amongst themselves (Willis setting the third fastest race lap as he closed on Clements) and allowed Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) some clear track on his way to sixth place. 

Seventh was Alan Dunkley in the Class A high-wing Lola T140, eighth Sefton Gibb (Lola T332). Dunkley arrived at the track on Friday with his car fully rebuilt but spent most of Friday afternoon and evening repairing cracks and bracing its bellhousing. 

Gibb, meanwhile, was looking for a top six lap in qualifying, only to break a half shaft before he could get into his stride, and had to work his way through the field in the race after starting from the back row of the grid. 

With local man Tim Rush pulling out on the first lap with ignition issues, David Banks (Talon MR1) and Peter Burson (McRae GM1) rounded out the field in ninth and tenth places respectively.  

Today's race was the first for the MSC series drivers since the death, due to injuries suffered in an accident at Invercargill's Teretonga Park, of class stalwart Stan Redmond and a minute's silence was observed by those at the track today before the warm up lap. 

MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series actoin continues at the Manfeild circuit tomorrow with two more race, another 8 lapper in the morning and a 12 lap feature in the afternoon. There is then a break of  a month and a half before the second and third rounds, run over consecutive weekends in late January at the New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meetings at Hampton Downs. 

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, Webdesign and Exide. 

Ends 

2013/14 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival SeriesRnd 1  The Sound MG Classic meeting Manfeild Sat-Sun Nov 9-10 
2013

Qualifying
1. Ken Smith (Lola T332) 1.01.54
2. Andrw Higgins (Lola T400) 1.04.37
3. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 1.05.08
4. Roger Williams (Lola T332) 1.05.89
5. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 1.05.99
6. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 1.06.07
7. Brett Willis (Lola T330) 1.07.06
8. Alan Dunkley (Lola T140)1.08.05
9. Dave Banks (Talon MR1) 1.08.86
10. Tim Rush  (McLaren M22) 1.09.11
11. Peter Burson (McRae GM1) 1.10.38
12. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 1.10.62 

Race 1 (8 laps)
1. Ken Smith 8.36.03 
2. Andrew Higgins + 9.7
3. Roger Williams + 19.67
4. Ian Clements +20.10
5. Brett Willis +20.64
6. Aaron Burson +24.42
7. Alan Dunkley +24.71
8. Sefton Gibb +35.24
9. David Banks +43.19
10. Peter Burson +52.09
dnf. Russell Greer Tim Rush