The crowds flocked to every possible vantage point to watch Kiwi racing great Ken Smith and his fellow MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series competitors contest the penultimate round of their 2009/10 series at the big Shannon’s Classic meeting at the Phillip Island circuit south of Melbourne on March 19-21, 2010.
Fastest qualifier Smith won two of the three MSC series races at the big biennial meeting with the 34-strong field of classic stock-block 5-litre V8-engined single-seaters the highlight for the 10,000-strong crowd.
After struggling with various engine issues at the two NZ Festival of Motor Racing – Bruce Mclaren meetings at home in New Zealand in January, 2007/08 series champion Chris Hyde (McRae GM1) set the second quickest lap time in qualifying and won the first race of the weekend from Smith, championship points leader Steve Ross (McRae GM1) and Tony Richards (Lola T332) only to be slowed then stopped early in the second race when an ignition wire behind his car’s dashboard came adrift.
Because he didn’t finish that race he was supposed to start Sunday’s 12-lap final from the back row of the grid, but mindful of his pace the Clerk of the Course suggested he start from P19 (rather than P34) from where he stormed through the field to cross the line third behind Smith and Ross.
In Hyde’s absence Smith led the final from start to finish, his progress only slowed by another early Safety Car intervention (there was also one of the first race of the weekend on Saturday morning) while the track was cleared after a clash between Calven Bonney (Begg 018) and UK driver Neil Glover (Lola T332) at Turn 4.
Once that was sorted out Smith claimed his second win of the weekend very much unchallenged from Ross with Hyde third, Ian Clements (Lola T332) fourth and Mark Dwyer (Lola T332) leading home fellow UK visitor Greg Thornton (Surtees TS11) in fifth.
Thornton, however, was still by far the quickest of the Class A (for earlier cars) drivers, again crossing the finish line in sixth place.
Tony Richards (Lola T332) was fourth in the first race and runner-up to Smith in the second but ran a bearing in the final. Fellow Lola T332 driver Sefton Gibb was another to feature in the top ten in the first two races only to be forced out of the third by a broken gearbox linkage.
There was a change, meanwhile in the hotly contested battle for first local driver home in the third race, with series regular Aaron Lewis (Chevron B24) finally getting the better of compatriot Darcy Russell (Lola T330) with an eighth place finish.
The MSC field remains in Australia now with the final round of this season’s series to be contested at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix meeting at Melbourne’s Albert Park next weekend.
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.
2009/10 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Rnd Five Shannon’s Phillip Island Classic Phillip Island Victoria Fri-Sun March 19-21
1. Ken Smith (NZ, Lola T430) 1:31.8732*
2. Chris Hyde (NZ, McRae GM1) 1:32.1516
3. Steve Ross (NZ, McRae GM1) 1:32.9739
4. Tony Richards (NZ, Lola T 332) 1:34.1844
5. Ian Clements (NZ, Lola T332) 1:34.2309
6. David Abbott (NZ, Lola T430) 1:35.2472
7. Mark Dwyer (UK, Lola T332) 1:35.2798
8. Greg Thornton (UK, Surtees TS11) 1:35.4631
9. Sefton Gibb (NZ, Lola T332) 1:35.6142
10. Neil Glover (UK, Lola T330) 1:37.5004
Race 1 (7 Laps)
1. Christopher Hyde 14:04.5220
2. Ken Smith 14:06.1772 5 1:32.0072*
3. Steve Ross
4. Tony Richards
5. Ian Clements
6. Sefton Gibb
7. Greg Thornton
8. Russell Greer
9. Darcy Russell
10. Aaron Burson
Race 2 (5 laps)
1. Ken Smith
2. Tony Richards
3. Steve Ross
4. Ian Clements
5. Sefton Gibb
6. Greg Thornton
7. David Abbott
8. Darcy Russell
9. Russell Greer
10. Neil Glover
Race 3 (12 Laps)
1. Ken Smith 25:10.9800
2. Steve Ross 25:11.4555
3. Christopher Hyde 25:11.5100
4. Ian Clements 25:16.6682
5. Mark Dwyer 25:25.1759
6. Greg Thornton 25:25.2923
7. David Abbott 25:26.3005
8. Aaron Lewis 25:40.9377
9. Darcy Russell 25:41.7663
10. Russell Greer 25:44.3038
11. Brett Willis 25:44.7993
12. Roger Williams 25:50.0180
13. Bruce Leeson 26:01.1223
14. John MacKinlay 26:04.4754
15. Bill Hemming 26:11.1791
16. Lindsay O’Donnell 26:11.5412
17. Timothy Rush 26:14.5855
18. Stan Redmond 26:14.9507
19. Robert Harborow 26:35.2462
20. Hamish Paterson 26:36.0938
21. Kerry McIntosh 26:37.3975
22. Kerry Anderson 25:11.0134
23. Peter Burson 25:11.0634
24. Poul Christie 25:11.1943
25. Philip Lewis 26:38.3471
DNF Paul Trevethan, Tony Richards, Neil Glover, Calven Bonney, Sefton Gibb