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Banks the victor following bruising F5000 racing at Manfeild

Sunday’s two races for the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival series was far from plain sailing for the 10-strong field – except for Auckland’s David Banks, taking a win and a second.

The first of four rounds on the 2023-2024 calendar, the season kicked off at the MG Classic meeting held at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon 10-12 November, in Feilding.

Following Saturday’s qualifying and season opening six-lap race win by Grant Martin in the Talon MR1A, Sunday included a six lap race in the morning with an eight-lap race in the afternoon – all with a rolling start.

As series co-ordinator Tony Jack established the handicapping gaps so each car started at the correct timed interval – he thought the plan worked favourably. With Tony Annabell first away in the McLaren M10B and the field racing, the plan then came unstitched. Entering the final turn on the run to start the second lap, Bruce Kett spun his Lola T332.

Unable to restart, the safety car was deployed to gather the field – the handicapping for naught. When the race resumed the faster cars were bunched behind the slower ones. Leader Annabell spun leaving the field in reverse order to find their way past. The inevitable closing contact resulted in Codie Banks Lola T332 tapping Kevin Ingram’s Lola as they headed for the grass. While mobile, both headed to the pits for damage inspection and retirement.

By now Banks was up to second position and overtook the Group A McLaren M10 B of Frank Karl on the penultimate lap.

Last to start and at the back of the melee, Grant Martin (Talon MR1A) had moved to fifth on the fifth lap, leaping to second before the chequered flag and finished 1.8sec behind Banks. Shane Windelburn (Lola T400) finished third with Karl in fourth.

As the mild weather weekend drew on, the afternoon eight lap race had Banks (junior) and Ingram back on the grid for a 10-car start. Positioned based on their previous race finishing (and allowing for Banks and Ingram) it was all going well, until. The Talon MR1A of Grant Martin appeared to be having brake issues and successive spins culminated in a dramatic loss of control at the back of the track on the run to the ‘Higgins’ corner. It was the last lap. Martin left the track, crossed the gravel and went sideways into the tyre barrier. While Martin emerged bruised the beautiful Norris Talon was going to require more attention than its Piha based pilot.

Out front Ingram made good on his starting position, taking the chequered flag first with David Banks (Talon MR1) in second, 11.53sec behind. Codie Banks (Lola T332), a further eight seconds back in third, behind his father. It was now a win-a-piece to Martin, Banks and Ingram.

Frank Karl (McLaren M10 B) again led the pre-1970 Group A field, finishing in fifth. Also in the category, Tony Roberts (McLaren M10 A) finished eighth and Toby Annabell (McLaren M10 B) in ninth.

Looking ahead to the series second round, it now breaks until the New Year – where it will join the Historic GP at the Taupō International Motorsport Park 19-21 January 2024.

Currently fielding 14 cars the number is expected to climb further as the post-holiday date allows several to return to racing. Contesting three races, they will be slightly longer with eight laps on Saturday, eight Sunday morning and a 10-lapper in the afternoon.

Continuing to support the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series in its 21st season are SAS Autoparts, MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney’s Specialised Bulk Transport, Mobil Lubricants, Avon Tyres, Webdesign, Exide Batteries and Pacifica Shipping – who sea freight the cars for the New Zealand events.

You can follow the series on Facebook at F5000 New Zealand or via the official website www.f5000.co.nz.

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