Local drivers Michael Collins and Steve Ross dominated the 33rd Skope Classic race meeting at Christchurch’s freshly re-named Euromarque Motorsport Park (Ruapuna) over the weekend, with the two sweeping all before them in qualifying and across all three NZF5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series races.
Right from Saturday morning’s qualifying session, the pair were wickedly quick, with category young gun Collins’ (Leda GM1 001) setting a pole time of 1:18.858.
The time was only some 1.270 seconds shy of the outright F5000 category lap record – a 1:17.588 – set by top UK Historic F1 driver Michael Lyons (Eagle FA-74) back in 2014.
Former three-time SAS Autoparts MSC NZF5000 series title-holder Ross (McRae GM1 009) was the second quickest qualifier with a time of 1.20.792.
Feilding’s Kevin Ingram (Lola T332) was the fastest of the North Island visitors in third with a time of 1:21.836.
The first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon saw the two ‘McRae’ GM1s of Collins and Ross battling it out at the front, with Collins just easing ahead at the end of the race to lead Ross home by 2.8 seconds. He was also ahead of the rest of the field by close to half a minute.
Third home was indeed third quickest qualifier Ingram (Lola T332), fourth Grant Martin (Talon MR1/A), fifth Brett Willis (Lola T332) and sixth Glenn Richards (Lola T400) with just three seconds separating the four cars at flag fall.
A little further back in the field, expat Brit Alastair Chalmers (Chevron B32) was celebrating going a full four seconds a lap quicker in the race than he had in the qualifying session earlier in the day.
The second race was the usual spectacular Handicap Rolling Start affair on Sunday morning and again, this one did not disappoint.
In fact, it had many spectators up on their feet and cheering wildly in the last couple of laps as category stalwart Russell Greer (Lola T332) drove out of his skin to maintain his lead.
If only the race had been 6 or 7 laps he would have been fine, but unfortunately for Russell it was 8 laps and Steve Ross’ relentless pursuit managed to just pip him at the finish line by 2.5 seconds.
It was a close finish across the field and a tribute to the handicapper as only 23 seconds covered all the cars.
There was some attrition in the second race which included both Collins’ cars with Michael dealing with a misfire while Anna’s had a broken spindle.
The feature race for the prestigious Bert Hawthorne Memorial Cup was looking in doubt, with heavy rain falling just before the racers were due out on the track.
However, the heat of the day soon had the track deemed dry enough for the slick-shod F5000s to line up and take the grid.
With Steve Ross choosing to sit the longer 12 lap feature race out, Michael Collins once again pulled away to a comfortable lead and held on to win from a hard-charging Ingram. Third was Brett Willis, who cleared away from his usual protagonist, Glenn Richards by 10 seconds.
After the race, series regular Tim Rush from Feilding was presented with the Stan Redmond Memorial Trophy for his contribution to F5000 racing and his sportsmanship, by special meeting guest, John Bowe.
Tim exhibits the same sort of pace, grace and sheer unadulterated passion and enthusiasm for F5000 racing that Redmond, one of the founding fathers both of the NZ F5000 Association and the now SAS Autoparts and MSC-sponsored NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series, did.
The SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series returns to the North Island now for two final 2022/23 season rounds, the first in just a fortnight’s time (February 25 to 26) at the soon-to-be-shuttered Pukekohe Park Raceway.
The full back straight will be in use at the Jim Palmer Meeting hosted by HRC and will provide a perfect place and time for all 16 F5000s entered to really stretch their legs. This will be a must see (and hear) event!
The F5000s will be on track across all three days of the Jim Palmer meeting, with morning and afternoon practice sessions on Friday, qualifying on the Saturday morning along with the first race that afternoon. The other two races will take place on Sunday, including the longer meeting feature.
2022/23 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Round 3 Results:
Race One (8 Laps):
Race Two (8 Laps):
Race Three (12 Laps):
Header image: Fast Company/Euan Cameron | Words: Supplied