The Bruce McLaren Trophy is back in Christchurch

The Bruce McLaren Trophy is back in Christchurch driver Chris Hyde's hands after another winning performance at the opening round of the 2009/10 MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series at the annual MG Classic motor racing meeting at Manfeild over the weekend.

Hyde, who won the MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series in 2008 before taking a sabbatical in 2009, won the Bruce McLaren trophy for the first time at the MG Classic meeting at Manfield in 2007. And he won it for a second time by completing a three race MSC series clean-sweep in the 12-lap feature final at the MG Classic meeting at Manfeild on Sunday.

Having set the quickest lap time in qualifying on Saturday morning then won the first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon and the second on Sunday morning, Hyde could hardly have had a better start to his 2009/10 campaign. And for that he was quick to thank car owner, series stalwart Stu Lush and his Auckland-based team.

"Really, " he said, " I'm just the guy lucky enough to be under the helmet. Stu, Grant and the boys have put so much time and effort into the car and this campaign, it's as much a win for them as it is for me."

Second in the Bruce McLaren Trophy feature was Sefton Gibb (Lola T332), the Napier man and his crew members winning a battle against time to replace a half shaft which broke in the sprint race on Sunday morning.

Also forced to strip and rebuild his car's transaxle between Sunday's races was second quickest qualifier and former MSC series champion Ian Clements (Lola T332) after he lost the use of second gear - coincidentally while he was disputing second place with Gibb - in the second race.

In the absence of defending MSC series champion, Ken Smith, who returned to Auckland after cracking a gearbox housing in practice on Friday, it was Gibb, Dunedin driver Steve Ross (McRae GM1) and Clements who provided Hyde with his closest competition over the weekend.

Clements qualifying second quickest and finishing third in the first and second races and fourth in the third; Ross qualified fourth and came back from a dnf (did not finish) in the first race to finish second on Sunday morning and third in the afternoon, while Gibb qualified third and bracketed a dnf of his own in the second race with second place finishes in the first and final races.

A clear, and very popular, winner of the Class A category for earlier model cars was Tim Rush, the Feilding local, in only his second season in the MSC series, splitting the later model Class B McRae GM1s of Aaron and Peter Burson in qualifying and ending up with a stand-out sixth place in the final.

"Unbelievable," he said as he was surrounded by well-wishers after that race. " What an amazing race and a fantastic way to finish the weekend."

Action-wise the three races followed a similar pattern, with Hyde getting the jump on Gibb, Clements and Ross at the start with series newcomer Brett Willis (Lola T330) and Auckland drivers John Mackinlay (March 73A/2) and Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) taking a watching brief.

There was also added drama in the final when the Safety Car was deployed late in the race so that Aaron Burson's car could be removed from the gravel trap at the end of the start/finish straight.

That bunched the field up behind race leader Chris Hyde and when the Safety Car returned to the pits the race ended with Hyde leading a closely following Gibb - who set the fastest race lap - Ross, Clements and Willis.

Tim Rush was a weekend-best sixth overall after a daring move around Kerry Anderson (Lola T142) - who was being lapped - and Peter Burson.

Burson had been leading Rush up until that point but was powerless to do anything about the quick-thinking Rush as he was forced to follow Anderson through the infield as Rush made the most of the advantage.

Of the other drivers, for someone who has not raced seriously for over ten years, Rotorua man Brett Willis had a dream MSC series debut, getting quicker and more competitive with each race.

Blenheim's Russell Greer (Lola T332) was part of the battlepack on Saturday and Sunday morning but had to sit the final race out after clutch problems slowed him in the second.

John Mackinlay and Aaron Burson were also quick early on only to strike problems, Mackinlay struggling with and eventually pulling out of the final with fuel starvation problems and Burson locking a front wheel and slipping off the track without damage ('apart from my pride,' he quipped after the final) in the first and third races and accidentally knocking a fuel pump switch off in the second.

Finally while young gun Tim Rush was claiming most of the limelight in the Class A category, long-time class and series supporter Poul Christie (Lola T190) was enjoying the added competition, finishing a meeting-best eighth overall in the final behind Rush and Burson Snr but in front of Hamish Paterson (Chevron B32), Kerry McIntosh (Begg FM2) and Kerry Anderson.

The 14-strong MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series field was given top billing at the 24th annual MG Classic meeting at Manfeild with support from the Central Muscle Car, BMW Series and Pre-65 classes.

The meeting was held in unseasonably cool, windy conditions with the rain which had been threatening all weekend finally materializing on Sunday afternoon.

Fortunately for the MSC F5000 series drivers the light showers which dusted the circuit just after lunch blew out and the heavier showers which saw the last Central Muscle Cars' race red flagged started as the MSC cars completed their cool down lap.

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, Pacifica, Toll Holdings, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide.

The next round will be part of the annual Lady Wigram Trophy meeting at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Raceway at Ruapuna Park over the January 8-10 2010 weekend.