HOME SIDE ADDS TO F5000 ARSENAL AHEAD OF SECOND TRANS-TASMAN TEST

Honours were split 50/50 at the opening round of the new series-within-a-series at Perth's Barbagallo Raceway a fortnight ago.

Bryan Sala from Melbourne (Match A50) qualified on pole on Friday and won the first two races of the weekend on Saturday but Grant Martin (Talon MR1A) from Auckland won the third race on Sunday morning and the 15-lap event feature in the afternoon.

This weekend, however, Sala and the other Australian drivers who contested the opening SAS Autoparts MSC series round at Barbagallo Raceway, will be joined by six others, led by the pair who dominated the final round of the 2015/16 series at Phillip Island in March this year, Tom Tweedie from Sydney (Chevron B24), and Tim Berryman from Stockinbingal (near Wagga Wagga) in rural New South Wales (Lola T332) and also including Melbourne ace Andrew Robson (Lola T330/2) 

"Talk about wheeling in the big guns," joked NZ F5000 committee member Glenn Richards (Lola T400) who qualified fourth and claimed two fourth and two sixth places at the opening round. 

"These guys are good and they're going to want to make the most of a track they know well before crossing the Tasman for our two Trophy Series' rounds in January." 

With Peter Brennan (Victoria, Lola T330) back in action after getting to Perth only to blow an engine in testing, and Max Pearson (Queensland, Elfin MR5), Geoff Munday (Victoria, Elfin MR5B) and Frank Harris (Victoria, Chevron B24) joining Perth entrants Bryan Sala, Paul Zazryn (Victoria, Lola T332), and Bill Hemming (Victoria, Elfin MR 8) on the grid this weekend the Australian team has swelled in size from six to nine. 

Experienced historic single seater class racer Grant Martin returns to spearhead the visitors' side which this weekend consists of Martin, Brett Willis (Lola T330) from Rotorua, Ian Riley (Lola T332) from New Plymouth and Aaron Burson (McRae GM1), Glenn Richards (Lola T400) and Tony Roberts (McLaren M10A) from Auckland.     

Martin says he was "surprised but at the same time, very pleased' with his two wins at Barbagallo Raceway but stresses that in a series like the SAS Autoparts MSC Revival one they are the icing rather than the cake. 

"The main reason I got involved in the series in the first place, and I know this goes for a lot of the other guys as well," he said this week, "was the opportunity that being part of it offers to race at meetings and places - like Barbagallo - you wouldn’t normally get the chance to go to. That and the fact that all the logistics of shipping your car to and from are taken care of. It's fantastic and really opens up the world to you if you own an F5000 car." 

It doesn't hurt that having made such a strong impression on spectators first time around (in the 1970s), the reborn F5000 cars - and their latter day custodians - are welcomed with open arms at historic motor racing meetings the world over, and the Shannons Perth Classic was no different. 

"Full credit to Marty Bullock and his team for the reception they gave us," says Glenn Richards," They couldn't have done more for us. It was brilliant and from what we have heard from our hosts over there Melbourne (for the Historic Sandown meeting this weekend) will be the same." 

Qualifying and the first of three SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Trans-Tasman Trophy races are on Saturday at Sandown with two more races, including a 10-lap feature, on Sunday. Ends