NEW RECORD BUT SMITH RECKONS HE CAN GO FASTER YET

But now that he has finally beaten the time life-long friend and first-time-around rival Graeme Lawrence set back in 1976, the 72-year-old in his 56th consecutive season of national-level single-seater motor racing reckons if and when the conditions are right again be can go even quicker. 

According to Smith, Lawrence's original F5000 category benchmark - a 1.01.900 - was set in his then new Lola T332 at the third Manfeild International meeting (a round of the Peter Stuyvesant Series Smith went on to win) in 1976 and was the benchmark for all classes at the 3.033km Feilding circuit until Simon Wills bettered it (1.01.457) in a Reynard Formula Holden in 2000.  

Though both Smith and Jonny Reid have gone considerably quicker during demo runs (Smith has done a 57 second lap in the Leyton House March Formula 1 car he owned for some time and Reid went under the minute in a demo behind the wheel of A1 Team New Zealand's A1GP car) neither time has been recognised meaning Wills' ultimate record is safe for now. 

By recording a 1.01.770 in the second MSC Series race of the weekend on Sunday morning, however, Smith finally bettered Lawrence's long-standing category benchmark and was bullish about his prospects of going even quicker. 

"I said last night (at the Manfeild 40th year anniversary dinner) that I could beat the record and now that I have," Smith said on Sunday afternoon, "I think there is a minute flat in that car. It was just magic today and the track was nice and grippy this morning. If it has stayed that way we might have been able to do it in the afternoon, but it didn't so that's a job for another day." 

Smith and the ex Danny Ongais Lola T332, rebuilt and run by a crew headed by Smith's long-time crew chief Barry Miller, was the class of the 13-strong MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series field this weekend with Andrew Higgins qualifying second quickest and following his mentor home in each race in his ex Vel's Parnelli Jones team-owned  Lola T400. 

Each race followed a broadly similar pattern with Smith getting the jump on Higgins before establishing then maintaining a sizable gap.  

Higgins, who at early rounds of the Australian series this year has matched and at times been able to better Smith's race pace, in turn had the edge over third quickest qualifier Ian Clements and his fellow Lola T332 drivers Roger Williams and Russell Greer. 

In the first two races Williams got the jump on Clements with the order at the flag Smith, Higgins, Williams, Clements and Brett Willis (Lola T330). 

Russell Greer, driving the Lola T332 that Graeme Lawrence set the original class lap record in back in 1976, was running with Williams and Clememts early in the first race before stopping with gear selection issues while Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) had to work his way from the back row of the grid in the first race after breaking a half shaft in qualifying.  

Gibb then worked his way from the back row of the grid to eighth place in the first race, finished seventh in the second then parlayed a strong start in the 12-lap feature final to cross the line in a weekend best fourth place behind Smith, Higgins and Roger Williams. 

The feature race was arguably the best from a spectator's point of view with Williams, Gibb, Ian Clements and Russell Greer battling for third through seventh places until the final lap when, as Clements tried to find a way past Gibb for fourth, Greer ran into the back of Clements' car at the hairpin as he made a bid for fifth. 

That put Clements' car off the track where it stayed, but Greer was able to continue and take the flag half a lap later, albeit back in seventh place behind Gibb, Brett Willis and Aaron Burson. 

After problems with his McLaren M22 on Saturday, local driver Tim Rush did not make the grid for Sunday's races, while after welding up and strengthening the bellhousing on his Class A high-wing Lola T140 on Friday and finishing seventh in Saturday's race Alan Dunkley suffered a weekend-ending engine blow early in the second race of the weekend on Sunday morning. 

Also in the wars was Talon MR1 driver David Banks who was forced to stop when the visor on his new helmet misted up in the race in Sunday morning and was forced out of the feature race in the afternoon when he ran out of brakes. 

After a break of a month and a half MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series action returns at the two New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meetings at Hampton Downs over consecutive weekends in late January.  

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 Sat)
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 

Race 2 (8 laps Sun)
1. Ken Smith 8.21.35
2. Andrew Higgins +16.51
3. Roger Williams +28.16
4. Ian Clements +28.79
5. Brett Willis +29.73
6. Russell Greer +31.09
7. Sefton Gibb +37.27
8. Aaron Burson +38.40
9. dnf Peter Burson, David Banks 

Race 3 12 laps (Sun)
1. Ken Smith 12.44.48
2. Andrew Higgins +18.07
3. Roger Wiliams +29.33
4. Sefton Gibb +30.05
5. Brett Willis +32.06
6. Aaron Burson +33.53
7. Russell Greer +34.74
dnf Ian Clements, David Banks