Steve Ross in his McRae GM1 successfully defended his 2012/13 MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series title after a hard-fought final round at the annual Evolution Motorsport Classic Speedfest meeting, held February 15-17, 2013 at Teretonga Circuit in Invercargill, New Zealand.
In a meeting which saw three different MSC class race winners – pole-setter Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) in the first, Ross in the second and eventual round winner Clark Proctor (March 73A) in the third – Ross ended the season with 649 points, 156 more than the fast-finishing Clark Proctor (493) and 225 more than third placed David Banks (Talon MR1).
A serious accident involving two of the MSC series competitors on Friday afternoon was not the start that competitors in the New Zealand-based Tasman Cup Revival series wanted but the action on the track on Saturday and Sunday was first-rate.
Sunday’s 12-lap series final was a cracker, Clark Proctor taking the win from poleman Andrew Higgins and visiting Australian driver Bryan Sala (Matich A50). Higgins and fellow front row starter Proctor were neck and neck off the rolling start but as the field thundered down to the circuit’s famous Loop corner at the end of the start/finish straight Proctor was in front with third place starter Ross tucked in behind him and Higgins on the outside in third.
Higgins was not prepared to lose two places though and passed Ross round the outside – in a move made famous by New Zealand Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon – of the Loop, slotting Ross back to third, where the Dunedin man stayed until three laps later when he spun on oil.
That allowed a fast-starting Sala to inherit third which he held to the line with Greg Thornton (McRae GM1) fourth, ahead of Paul Zazryn (Lola T332), Steve Ross who was able to re-start and get back onto the track without damage, and Michael Whatley (Surtees TS8).
With a win in the final race and second places in the shorter eight lap races on Saturday and Sunday, it was Proctor who was the overall round winner from Andrew Higgins, Steve Ross and Greg Thornton. The latter spent the race hounding Paul Zazryn, finally finding a way past to claim fourth on the last lap.
As well as winning the round, Proctor also set a new category track record on his way to second place in the second weekend race on Saturday morning, leaving it at 54.478 seconds.
Proctor joined the MSC F5000 series last season after starting his competitive driving career in Speedway then moving to Targa events and the NZV8 tin-tops series and says he has thoroughly enjoyed his better-late-than-never introduction to single-seaters via the MSC series.
“I’m really happy with the way the weekend has gone both with the car, which we managed to improve as we went, and with cementing ourselves as part of the MSC F5000 family.”
Despite being a little frustrated that the oil flags went out after he spun Steve Ross was also very happy with the way the event – and season – panned out.
“The three of us have been pushing hard all weekend so it’s been a good way to finish off the season. Obviously, the plan to win all three races didn’t come off but we’ve got the title again so we can’t complain about that.”
Race 2 (Sunday 8 laps)
For sheer pace and wheel-to-wheel action the second race of the weekend on Sunday morning would take some beating, Higgins again on pole with Ross beside him and Clark Proctor on P3.
Ross got the jump on Higgins off the rolling start with Proctor tucking in behind. Higgins and Proctor then disputed second place with Higgins getting past early on but Clark returning the favour and setting the new class lap record as he kept Higgins behind.
Behind the leading trio Greg Thornton drove a lonely race in fourth as Michael Whatley and Paul Zazryn spent the race disputing fifth with David Banks enjoying another strong run in seventh as he led Peter Dunn (March 73A) and Bryan Sala (Matich A50.
Race 1 (Sat 8 laps)
After pipping both Ross and Proctor in qualifying in the morning Andrew Higgins won the weekend’s first MSC race from Ross and Proctor. A fast-starting Ross actually got the jump on both Higgins and Proctor off the rolling start but Higgins was back in front before the end of the first lap.
As it turned out Proctor also – eventually – found a way past Ross, crossing the finish line in second place.
Behind Higgins, Proctor and Ross, Michael Whatley was the first of the visiting internationals home in fourth place with compatriot Greg Thornton and Australian Paul Zazryn fifth and sixth respectively.
Monaco-based Brit Peter Dunn was next home three seconds back in seventh with Bryan Sala eighth, David Banks – who recovered from a spin exiting the last corner on the last lap – ninth and former series champion Ian Clements driving fellow Christchurch man Lindsay O’Donnell’s Begg FM5 tenth, the field rounded out by series guest Phil Mauger driving the ex Denny Hulme McLaren M23 Formula 1 car and Australian Bill Hemming in his Australian-made Elfin MR8A-C.
The MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is organized and run with the support of sponsors MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney’s Specialized Bulk Transport, Mobil Lubricants, Pacifica, Avon Tyres and Exide.
2012/13 MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series – Round 7 Evolution Motorsport Classic Speedfest Teretonga Invercargill, Feb 15-17, 2013
1. Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) 00:54.350
2. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 00:54.591
3. Clark Proctor (March 73A) 00:55.685
4. Gregory Thornton (McRae GM1) 00:56.470
5. Michael Whatley (Surtees TS8) 00:57.371
6. Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) 00:57.675
7. Peter Dunn (March 73A) 00:58.174
8. Bryan Sala (Matich A50) 00:58.223
9. Peter Sundberg (Lola T332) 00:58.277
10. David Banks (Talon MR1) 00:59.135
11. Phil Mauger (McLaren M23 F1) 01:02.650
12. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8 A-C) 01:03.848
Race 1 (8 laps)
1. Andrew Higgins 7.26.061
2. Clark Proctor + 6.037
3. Steve Ross +6.177
4. Michael Whatley +23.983
5. Greg Thornton +25.165
6. Paul Zazryn +25.40
7. Peter Dunn +28.840
8. Brian Sala +32.207
9. David Banks +54.028
10. Ian Clements +54.408
11. Phil Mauger +59.587
12. Bill Hemming 1 lap
Race 2 (8 laps)
1. Steve Ross 07:24.441
2. Clark Proctor +00:00.625
3. Andrew Higgins +00:01.008
4. Gregory Thornton + 00:18.041
5. Mike Whatley 00:21.584
6. Paul Zazryn +00:22.082
7. David Banks +00:27.312
8. Peter Dunn +00:27.899
9. Bryan Sala +00:35.401
10. Phil Mauger +00:41.181
11. Ian Clements +00:42.098
DNF Bill Hemming 3 Laps
Fastest lap and new lap record. Clark Proctor (March 73A) 54.478
Race 3 (12 laps)
1. Clark Proctor 11:11.878
2. Andrew Higgins +00:02.191
3. Bryan Sala +00:13.362
4. Gregory Thornton +00:13.697
5. Paul Zazryn +00:31.296
6. Steve Ross +00:32.327
7. Mike Whatley +00:42.126
8. David Banks +00:49.115
9. Ian Clements +00:50.424
10. Phil Mauger +1 Lap
11. Bill Hemming +1 Lap
DNF. Peter Dunn 12 Laps
Fastest lap Clark Proctor 55.260.
1. Clark Proctor 102
2. Andrew Higgins 100
3. Steve Ross 92
4. Greg Thornton 91
Final series points
1. Steve Ross 649 points
2. Clark Proctor 493
3. David Banks 424
4. Ken Smith 377
5. Greg Thornton 355
1. Alan Dunkley 403
2. Rod Carroll 322
3. Mike Whatley 259
[Source: NZ F5000 Assoc.; photo: Fast Company/Alex Mitchell]