F5000 boost for New Zealand fans this summer
After seven seasons with rounds on both sides of the Tasman, the MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series looks set to be an almost all-New Zealand affair this summer.
Though allowance in the 2010/11 calendar has been made should the popular New Zealand-based MSC-backed group again be invited to join the support class roster at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix meeting in Melbourne in March next year, the five rounds so far confirmed are split between local circuits Hampton Downs in the northern Waikato, Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Christchurch’s Ruapuna Park and Invercargill’s Teretonga Park.
“Really, “says NZ F5000 Association spokesman Tony Jack,” there are several. And it’s certainly not for want of invitations from event organisers across the Tasman who want us on their programmes again.
“What’s happened is that we’ve seen fantastic growth both in terms of interest in the category and number of cars on the grid, particularly over the past three years, but with the economy the way it is, plus the prospect of another couple of fantastic New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meetings over consecutive weekends in January, our members told us that they would prefer to stay a little closer to home this season.”
The move will certainly be welcomed by fans of the big, brutish V8-engined 70s era F5000 single-seaters, particular those in the South Island who have only had the one chance per season – at the Lady Wigram Trophy meeting in early January – to see the cars in action since 2005.
This season they have three; at the re-scheduled season-opening Lady Wigram Trophy meeting at the end of October, and the Skope Classic meeting at Christchurch’s Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park, and Southern Festival of Speed meeting at Invercargill in February.
The MSC F5000s will again be the main drawcard at the Lady Wigram Trophy meeting, the traditional early January date brought forward to October 30/31 to align the biggest event on the local motor racing calendar with the biggest one on the New Zealand horse-racing one, Christchurch’s Cup Week.
For the past two seasons the MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series has been dominated by evergreen veteran Ken Smith (Lola T430) and Smith is set to return – possibly in his own Lola T332 this time – to try and make it three titles in as many years.
After a sabbatical over the 2008/09 season, 2007/08 title holder Chris Hyde (McRae GM1) returned in 2009/10 to keep Smith honest and he will again be one of the drivers - along with Lady Wigram Trophy winner Roger Williams and fellow Lola T332 drivers Tony Richards, Ian Clements and Sefton Gibb – Smith will have to beat if he is to achieve his goal.
With over 30 race-ready cars now based here in New Zealand filling grids will not be a problem either. In fact interest from drivers keen to join the series is so great that five or six new car/driver combinations are expected to join the existing ones this season.
Including in that group is 70s New Zealand tin-top front-runner Peter Sundberg who has bought a Lola T332 (the ex Stan Redmond car which he intends running in Kevin Bartlett/Chesterfield colours) and historic single-seater stalwart Frank Karl who is set to debut a recently acquired McLaren M10A.
Karl’s is one of three Class A (for earlier model F5000 cars) McLaren M10A models expected to join the MSC ranks this year, with UK-based Kiwi Grant Clearwater set to return with the car he ran at the two New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing – Bruce McLaren meetings last year, and MSC series regular Poul Christie’s son Graham putting the finishing touches to his own M10A at the moment.
2010/11 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series
Rnd 1: Oct 30/31 2010 Lady Wigram Trophy, Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch
Rnd 2: Jan 21-23 2011 NZ Festival of Motor Racing – Chris Amon meeting x 1 Hampton Downs Auckland
Rnd 3: Jan 28-30 2011 NZ Festival of Motor Racing – Chris Amon meeting x 2 Hampton Downs Auckland
Rnd 4: Feb 05/06 2011 Skope Classic meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch
Rnd 5: Feb 19-20 2011 Southern Festival of Speed meeting, Teretonga Park Invercargill