SMITH THE FASTEST MAN ON THE TRACK AT MANFIELD

Easily eclipsing both the pole time and new track lap in the head-lining Toyota Racing Series (TRS) 1.8 litre slicks-and-wins junior formula category, the 73-year-old in his 57th year of national-level motor racing lapped the 3.33km Feilding circuit in his 1976 ex Danny Ongais stock block 5.0 litre V8-powered Lola T332 in a best time of 1.01.325 to claim pole position for the first MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series race then won it with the fastest lap of 1.02.185. 

By way of comparison, 21-year-old Frenchman Brandon Maisano claimed pole for the first TRS race with a best time of 1.02.502 then set a new class lap record - 1.02.653 - on his way to winning the first race. 

Earlier in the day MSC series champion elect Steve Ross (McRae GM1) from Dunedin shadowed Smith in qualifying, both drivers in the 1.01s and Ross only 0.216 of a second behind. 

Defending series champion Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) from Auckland was third, just under a second back then another second-and-a-half covered UK-bases series regular Greg Thornton (Surtees TS11), the Lola T332s of Russell Greer and Sefton Gibb, and the similar Lola T330 of Brett Willis. 

Smith got the jump on Ross off the rolling start at the beginning on the 8-lap race then Higgins found a way past Ross for second through the in-field on the second lap. 

Russell Greer, meanwhile, got the jump on Greg Thornton and held fourth for two laps before Thornton pushed him back to fifth, then Sefton Gibb followed a lap later to slot Greer back to sixth.   

Further back, Hampton Downs circuit co-owner Tony Roberts made up four places on the first lap in his newly completed high-wing McLaren M10A before being shuffled back down the order, first by Calven Bonney in the New Zealand-made Begg 018, then Brett Willis, Aaron Burson in his Talon MR1A and finally series returnee Stu Lush (McRae GM1) from Auckland. 

Brett Willis was one of the drivers who lost out in the jockeying for position on the first lap, losing four places, but the Rotorua man - who last weekend won the Stan Redmond Memorial Trophy for his spirited driving at the Skope Classic meeting  in Christchurch - made them up again by the flag, crossing the finish line in seventh place, just behind Sefton Gibb and Russell Greer. 

Having to start the race from the pit lane, meanwhile, was Auckland driver Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) who was still fixing his car's fuel metering unit when the rest of the field gridded up. 

Windelburn got the car going again, but finished two laps down because of his late start.  

Today's MSC F5000 series race was the first of three at the NZ Grand Prix meeting with another eight lapper on Sunday morning and a 12-lap feature final in the early afternoon.  

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 

2014/15 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Rnd 6 (Final) 60th annual New Zealand Grand Prix meeting Manfeild Feilding New Zealand Fri-Sun Feb 13-15 2015
Qualifying
1. Ken Smith (Auckland, Lola T332) 01:01.325
2. Steve Ross (Dunedin, McRae GM1) 01:01.541                 
3. Andrew Higgins (Auckland, Lola T400) 01:02.441
4. Greg Thornton (Auckland, Surtees TS11) 01:03.893
5. Russell Greer (Blenheim, Lola T332) 01:04.063
6. Sefton Gibb (Napier, Lola T332) 01:04.822
7. Brett Willis (Rotorua, Lola T330) 01:04.968
8. David Banks (Auckland, Talon MR1) 01:05.009
9. Aaron Burson (Auckland, Talon MR1A) 01:05.337
10. Calven Bonney (Auckland, Begg 018) 01:05.639            
11. Stuart Lush (Auckland, McRae GM1) 01:05.799
12. Glenn Richards (Auckland, Lola T400) 01:06.854          
13. Shayne Windelburn (Auckland, Lola T400) 01:09.058    
14. Tony Roberts (Auckland, McLaren M10A) 01:09.693 

Race 1 (Sat 8 laps)
1. Ken Smith 08:25.298
2. Andrew Higgins +01.119
3. Steve Ross +01.973            
4. Greg Thornton +20.167      
5. Sefton Gibb +23.768
6. Russell Greer +24.197
7. Brett Willis  +27.528           
8. David Banks +28.598
9. Calven Bonney +30.741     
10. Aaron Burson +31.961
11. Stuart Lush +41.562         
12. Tony Roberts +55.337      
13. Glenn Richards +55.859 3            
14. Shayne Windelburn +2 laps