F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Preview
The big Formula 5000s are getting ready to roar on the other side of the Tasman as the MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series kicks into gear for a fresh season.
Current champion Ken Smith will be back to defend his title, sporting a new set of wheels – a Lola T332. The new ride is one he’s been after for a while, putting him back behind the wheel of the model he found success with in the original series during the ’70s. It’s lighter and more limber, and he’s looking fast already.
The Formula 5000s and their fearless steerers always produce exciting historic racing that’s great fun to watch and a delight to the ears. Read on for the official word from the New Zealand Formula 5000 Association.
Images provided by the New Zealand Formula 5000 Association.
SMITH TO DEFEND MSC F5000 TITLE IN NEW CAR
Evergreen New Zealand racing veteran Ken Smith will defend his MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series title this season behind the wheel of a new car, an ex Danny Ongais Lola T332.
Since his move to the series in 2007, Smith – who turned 70 earlier this month and who has won the annual trans-Tasman MSC series for the past three years - has been driving a Lola T430.
It was in an earlier model T332 Lola that the three-time New Zealand Grand Prix winner enjoyed much of his success in the category first time around (in the 1970s) however, and he has had an eye out for a good one since his return.
Word of such a car reached him 18 months ago and he and long-time crew members Barry Miller and Phil Richardson bought it from the widow of its original owner soon after.
“The 332 was the best of the 5000s and this one’s been in a museum in Los Angeles for 31 years, ” says Smith. “It was an Interscope car which Danny Ongais drove. It was absolutely original when we bought it, as if it had just finished its last race.”
Despite that Miller, Richardson and Smith have spent the past year stripping and completely rebuilding the car with the intention of having it ready for the 2011/2012 MSC series.
This season’s series kicks off at Christchurch’s big Wigram Revival meeting at Ruapuna Park’s Powerbuilt Tools Raceway on the first weekend of November with subsequent rounds at Manfeild, Hampton Downs, Powerbuilt Tools Raceway again, and Phillip Island in Australia.
Last season Smith won the MSC title for a third year in a row having fought a season-long battle with top local driver Steve Ross (McRae GM1) from Dunedin, and visitors Jay Esterer from Canada (McRae GM1) and Michael Lyons (Lola T400) from Great Britain.
All three are expected back – for some of the rounds in the case of Esterer and Lyons anyway – with Smith particularly looking forward to taking on the visitors in a lighter car.
“Don’t get me wrong, ” he says,” the 430′s a great old girl but the McRaes are a good 150kgs lighter and Jay’s in particularly has always been wickedly quick off the corners. I don’t think we’ll be able to get the 332 quite down to their level but it’ll definitely be closer than the 430.”
Though entries are yet to open for the two 2011 events (in Christchurch and Feilding) indications are that there will be over 20 locally-based cars on the grid. That number will then be supplemented at the 2012 meetings at Hampton Downs, Powerbuilt Tools Raceway and Phillip Island by almost as many cars again from across the Tasman and/or the UK and the US/Canada.
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, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide.