Local ace Michael Collins (Leda GM1) got within 0.168 of a second of claiming a qualifying/race win/quickest race lap clean sweep at the latest round of New Zealand’s SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series in Christchurch over the weekend.
However, rather than rue the difference between himself in second place and the winner of the category’s new ‘rolling-start-handicap’ race on Sunday morning, Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400), defending category holder and current class pacesetter Collins said that he would simply have to work even harder next time.
“All credit to him,” the 25-year-old Leda GM1 driver said as he packed up after his latest lights-to-flag victory in the 8 lap feature final at the 31st annual Skope Classic historic motor racing meeting at his ’home’ track, Christchurch’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park- Ruapuna late on Sunday afternoon.
”I definitely was close at the end but he got to the line first.
“Could I have gone faster earlier on? Definitely. And could I have got through the traffic in the middle of the race quicker? Probably. But that’s the beauty of having a handicap race in our mix now. You have to learn a whole lot of new race skills.”
Category stalwart Windelburn also won the handicap race at the first round of the 20/21series at Manfield Circuit Chrs Amon in November last year, But he stopped – well – short of saying he was an expert at the format,
“Partcularly here (At Mike Pero Motorsport Park) where I’ve only raced the Lola twice before.’
That said, when he saw the handicap he had been given he decided he was ‘definitely in with a chance’ and once he got into the lead, it was “amazing how motivating it is to have a bunch of quick guys like that behind you!”
As it turned out the weekend became one of celebration for the Auckland man, and his travelling companion, 9-year-old son Joshua.
Each year at the Skope Classic meeting local man Steve Weeber awards the Stan Redmond Memeorial Trophy to the driver in the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 category who exhibits the same sort of selfless enthusiasm for the cars and category as his late friend Stan Redmond did.
This year he awarded the trophy to Shayne Windelburn.
Unfortunately the unusually high rate of attrition in Saturday’s race carried over into Sunday with both Anna Collins and Tony Galbraith out for the weekend, Collins thanks to a broken valve spring, Galbraith with a gearbox issue. Gearbox issues also sidelined Tim Rush (McLaren M22) between the second and third races on Sunday.
With category stalwart Russell Greer (Lola T332) already out after his ex Graham Lawrence car suffered some damage to a corner of its monocoque after a coming together in the category qualifying session on Saturday morning, it meant that a smaller field of eight cars was flagged away by the starter of the second race, won – just – by Shayne Windlelburn from a fast closing Michael Collins with Kevin Ingram (Lola T332) third and Glenn Richards (Lola T400) fourth.
It was Michael Collins again all the way in the feature final, though this time the young gun could not quite shake off former NZ Formula Ford class champion Kevin Ingram (Lola T332).
Not far back Codie Banks (Lola T332) had established the early advantage over a closely matched Glenn Richards with Codie’s father David (Talon MR1) finally enjoying a trouble-free run (after all sorts of mechanical issues through practice, qualifying and the first two races) behind Richards but ahead of Shayne Windelburn.
Richards then briefly enjoyed third place after catching and passing Codie Banks – whose early race charge had been at the expense of his Lola’s brakes – only to outbrake himself at the end of the lap and find himself falling into the clutches of a fast-finishing David Banks who explained that “with nothing to lose we decided to make a really big change to the set-up of the car, comfortable in the knowledge that I would either really like it, or really hate it!”
As Glenn Richards found out on the last lap, Banks Snr really, really liked it, passing Richards for a weekend best third place finish.
In saying all this the weekend’s round was another Michael Collins’ benefit.
After helping make a little history in the category qualifying session on Saturday morning when he and sister Anna annexed the front row of the grid for the first SAS Autoparts MSC series race on Saturday morning in their Alistair Hay & Vicki Jones-owned Leda LT27s, Michael simply streaked away from Anna and everyone else in the 10-strong field to win the first 8-lap race of the weekend very much as he liked.
Along the way he set the fastest race lap – a 1:21.547 – before crossing the finish line 4.773 seconds in front of Codie Banks with last season’s category runner-up, Glenn Richards coming home a fast-finishing third
Anna Collins easily held on to second place for the first two laps, before her car’s engine rev limiter started playing up and she was soon caught and quickly dropped back to fifth place by Codie Banks, Glenn Richards and Codie’s father David Banks (Talon MR1).
That was as good as it was going to get for both Anna Collins and David Banks, with Anna’s race ending in the pits and Banks Snr’s at the side of the track with a flat tyre.
With Kevin Ingram (Lola T332) – loose bodywork – and Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) – a sticking throttle – also forced to pull out of the race only six cars were recorded as finishers.
Despite that Tony Galbraith (Lola T332) and Tim Rush (McLaren M22) were never more than a couple of car lengths apart, crossing the finish line in that order in fourth and fifth place respectively with Frank Karl – in the only older (Pre ’71) car in the field this weekend guaranteed himself maximum Class A points by claiming sixth place.
The SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Serries 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.
Images: Euan Cameron