Kiwi supervet Ken Smith (Lola T332) continued on his winning way on the first day of competition at the final round of the 2016/17 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series at the annual Skope Classic motor racing meeting in Christchurch this afternoon. In hot, dry conditions which saw the South Island city's Mike Pero Motorsport Park at Ruapuna swelter in temperatures approached 30 degrees C the defending - and four-time - series champion set pole position in qualifying a full 2.3 seconds quicker than second quickest Glenn Richards (Lola T400).
The 75-year-old super veteran then led the first series' race of the weekend from start to finish, eventually crossing the finish line after eight laps of the 3.33km Grand Prix circuit almost 18-seconds in front of fellow former series title-holder Steve Ross (McRae GM1) with David Banks (Talon MR1) third and 2016/17 title prospect Brett Willis fourth.
"I really enjoyed that," said Smith as he was surrounded by well-wishers in the SAS Autoparts MSC pits afterwards. "I got on a bit of a roll, lap by lap, and there was no traffic to pass until the last lap. When you get on a bit of a roll like you just keep rolling.
Heading into the meeting the 2016/17 series' title fight looked set to be between Brett Willis (Lola T330) and Glenn Richards (Lola T400). Richards grabbed the initiative by setting a second quickest qualifying time. But he was shuffled back into third off the lines by a fast-starting Steve Ross, then managed only one full before blowing a tyre as he braked at the end of the start/finish straight.
"It just went down very, very quickly, " said a disappointed Richards. "Luckily there was plenty of room where I went off."
As Smith pulled away from the rest of the 16-strong field the interest was in the battle for second with Dave Banks taking advantage of an excellent start off P5 (behind Smith and Ross) to close on Ross for second place at the hairpin. Ross retained the position but Banks settled into a comfortable third and with Smith and Ross was the only other driver to lap under the 1.23.00 mark.
"I had the car to get into second, it was going really strong," said Banks.
Like Ross, Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) also enjoyed a strong return to the SAS Autoparts MSC F5000 series, finishing fifth after resisting constant pressure from visiting Australian driver Paul Zazryn (Lola T332).
"I got a good start, I went from eight to sixth, and I was determined to stay there, " he said. 'I enjoyed it, It was great."
Behind Paul Zazryn, Ian Clements (Lola T332) led a five-car mid-field battle-pack consisting of Aaron Burson (McRae GM1), David Arrowsmith (Lotus 70), Russell Greer (Lola T332) and Greg Thornton (Chevron B24). Australian Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8), Englishman Mike Sidgewick (Trojan T101) and Class A (for older series cars) leader Frank Karl (McLaren M10B) completed the finishing order.
Young gun Michael Lyons (Hesketh 308E), meanwhile, was, the fastest qualifier and winner of the first Historic F1 race of the weekend. The 26-year-old set a new qualifying benchmark for the category of 1.18.528 in qualifying then a 1.18.656 in the race. Aberdeen-based Irishman Tommy Dreelan (March 761) qualified and finished second from Lyons' Jnr's father Frank (McLaren M26) and mother Judy (Surtees TS9).
The 2016/17 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is organised and run with the support of sponsors SAS Autoparts, MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney's Specialised Bulk Transport, Mobil Lubricants, Pacifica, Avon Tyres, Webdesign and Exide Batteries.
2016/17 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series
1. Ken Smith (Lola T332) 1.18.698
2. Glenn Richards (Lola T400) 1.21.091
3. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 1.21.436
4. Brett Willis (Lola T330) 1.21.938
5. David Banks (Talon MR1) 1.22.039
6. Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) 1.22.148
7. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 1.22.453
8. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 1.22.966
9. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 1.23.013
10. David Arrowmsith (Lotus 70) 1.23.344
11. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 1. 24.577
12. Greg Thornton (Chevron B24) 1.25.050
13. Chris Atkinson (Surtees TS8) 1.26.941
14. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8) 1.29.470
15. Mike Sidgewick (Trojan T101) 1.32.915
16. Frank Karl (McLaren M10B) 1.33.015
Race 1 (Sat) 8 laps
1. Ken Smith 10:58.100
2. Steve Ross +17.945
3. David Banks +21.193
4. Brett Willis +24.086
5. Sefton Gibb +24.834
6. Paul Zazryn +25.347
7. Ian Clements +25.865
8. Aaron Burson + 27.730
9. David Arrowsmith +29.765
10. Russell Greer +38.986
11. Greg Thornton +40.412
12. Bill Hemming +1 lap
13. Mike Sidgewick +1 lap
14. Frank Karl +1 lap
dnf Glenn Richards, Chris Atkinson.
Historic Formula 1
1. Michael Lyons (Hesketh 308E) 1.18.528
2. Tommy Dreelan (March 761) 1.21.510
3. Frank Lyons (McLaren M26) 1.24.829
4. James Hagan (Hesketh 308E) 1.29.579
5. Judy Lyons (Surtees TS9) 2.10.740
Race 1 (Sat 8 laps)
1. Michael Lyons
2. Tommy Dreelan
3. Frank Lyons
4. Judy Lyons
dns James Hagan
Points after Rnd 4 of 5
1. Bryan Sala (Aust, Matich A50/51) 382 points
2. Grant Martin (NZ, Talon MR1A) 373
3. Brett Willis (NZ, Lola T330) 345
4. Glenn Richards (NZ, Lola T400) 327
5. Paul Zazryn (Aust, Lola T332) 322
6. Aaron Burson (NZ, McRae GM1) 297
7. Ken Smith (NZ, Lola T332) 206
8. Bill Hemmings (Aust, Elfin MR8) 202
9. Clark Proctor (NZ, March 73A-1) 198
10, David Banks (NZ, Talon MR1) 197
11. Mark Dwyer (UK, Lola T332) 193
12. Ian Clements (NZ, Lola T332) 145
13. Frank Karl (NZ, McLaren M10B) 114
14. Chris Atkinson (UK, Surtees TS8) 109
15. Shayne Windelburn (NZ, Lola T400) 108
16. Russell Greer (NZ, Lola T332) 106
17. Tom Tweedie (Aust, Chevron B24) 104
18. Peter Brennan (Aust, Lola T330) 99
19. Ian Riley (NZ, Lola T332) 98
20. Andrew Robson (Aust, Lola T332) 92
21. Tony Roberts (NZ, McLaren M10A) 91
22. Darcy Russell (Aust, Lola T330) 81
23. Rod Carroll (Aust, Lola T140) 79
24. Tim Berryman (Aust, Lola T332) 76
25. Greg Thornton (UK, Chevron B24) 73
26 Mike Sidgewick (UK, Trojan 101) 62
27=. Peter Burson (NZ, McRae GM1) 60
27=. Dave Arrowsmith (NZ, Lotus 70) 60
29. Karl Zohs (NZ, Chevron B32) 44
30. Kerry McIntosh (NZ, Begg FM2) 32
31. Max Pearson (Aust, Elfin MR8) 29
32. Joe Ricciardo (Aust, McLaren M10B) 16
33. Alan Dunkley (NZ, Lola T332) 1