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‘Close to home’ call popular with local F5000 series’ drivers & fans alike

With travel for competition outside New Zealand’s borders virtually impossible now and into next year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, you’d think that there’d be some long faces as members of the local Formula 5000 Association prepare for a truncated and wholly NZ-based 2020/21 season.

“Not so,” however, according to Auckland-based car owner/driver and committee member, Glenn Richards.

“In fact,” said Richards over the weekend, the mood ahead of the opening round of the 2020/21 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series at the annual The Sound MG Classic meeting at Manfeild in a fortnight’s time (Nov 14-15 weekend) “could hardly be more positive.”

“Like most Kiwis,’ he said, “ we’re probably guilty of underestimating the effect of the whole COVID-19/Lockdown on people’s states-of-mind. When we sat down, in fact, to talk about our calendar for the new season, there was very little appetite for any major travel – for the time being, anyway.

“There was still a desire to drive our cars – once you’ve turned a wheel in anger in an F5000 racing car I don’t think that ever leaves you – but what came through loud and clear was that in the past, we’ve – perhaps – put a little bit too much pressure on ourselves to take our show ‘on the road….’ and right now the last thing any of us want or need is any more pressure in our lives.”

As such this season’s SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tamsna Cup Revival Series will be contested over just the four – rather than the more usual five, or even six, of previous seasons – New Zealand rounds, each on a track and at meetings familiar with the 10 series regulars who make up the bulk of the entry – for the opening series’ round at least.

That round is later this month at Feilding’s Circuit Chris Amon Manfeild where the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 single-seaters have been a popular drawcard for the organisers of the long-running MG Classic race meeting for over 10 years.

There is then a break of just over two months before the second and third rounds of the 2020/21 series at the country’s two biggest classic motor racing meetings of the summer, the Taupo Historic Grand Prix featuring Ford at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in the North Island between January 22 and 24 and the annual Skope Classic motor racing meeting at Christchurch’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park in the South Island between February 05 and 07.

The Auckland-based Historic Racing Club will then host the fourth and final round of the 2020/21 series at its annual Legends of Speed meeting at the Hampton Downs circuit in the northern Waikato over the March 20-21 weekend.

Heading the 12-strong field of the classic ‘stock block’ 5.0l litre V8 powered wings-and-slicks-equipped single-seaters set to appear at the opening round of the 2020/21 series round at Circuit Chris Amon Manfeild this month is 2019/20 series title holder, Michael Collins from Christchurch.

Collins, 25, will once again be behind the wheel of one of Queenstown car-owning couple, Alistair & Vicki Hey’s, Graham McRae designed-and built Leda/McRae GM1s. This season though he will be driving the original Tasman and US L&M Series-winning 1972 Leda LT27/GM1 001, while older sister Anna Collins will take over the Leda LT27/McRae GM1 004 car Michael used to win the 2019/20 SAS Autoparts MSC Series title.

Like her older sister Katherine, and younger brother Michael, Anna, 28, enjoyed a successful career start in karts. She then graduated to the South Island Formula Ford championship in 2015 and now the SAS Autoparts/MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series in 2020.

Anna won the NZ Class 2 Formula Ford championship in only her second year running in the category and last season she finished 5th overall in the South Island F1600 Series.

Set to take the battle to the Collins siblings this year is 2019/20 series’ runner-up Glenn Richards from Auckland (ex Eppie Weitz Lola T400) and the series’ other familial pair, father and son David and Codie Banks.

Once again, David – the man behind series sponsor SAS Autoparts – will be back behind the wheel of his ex-Jon Woodner Talon MR1 while son Codie, who works with his parents in the family business, will be driving the ex-Kevin Bartlett/Johnnie Walker ‘Magnum Wheels’ Lola T332.

Also back for another season of SAS Autoparts MSC series action are fellow Lola T332 owner/drivers Russell Greer from Blenheim (ex-Graeme Lawrence/Murray Sinclair HU28), Tony Galbraith from Hampton Downs (ex-Tuck Thomas/Ian Clements/Sefton Gibb HU38A) and former NZ Formula Ford champion Kevin Ingram from Feilding (ex John Morton/Chuck Haines/Ian Clements HU48R).

Joining them on the grid at Circuit Chris Amon Manfeild will be Shayne Windelburn from Auckland in his ex-Richard Scott/Bob Evans Lola T400 HU8, and last season’s Class A (for older cars) protagonists, winner Frank Karl (ex-Mike Walker/Guy Edwards McLaren M10B 400-18S) and runner-up, Tony Roberts (ex Bob Esseks/Sam Posey ‘high-wing’ McLaren M10A 300-09 [A]).

Set to make his SAS Autoparts/ MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series debut at the Circuit Chris Amon Manfeild meeting, meanwhile, is keen classic sportscar racer Toby Annabel, from Hawera in nearby Taranaki who has bought the ex-David Good British Hill Climb Championship McLaren M10B originally imported in 2104 by David Mitchell but on-sold to Tony Roberts in 2018.

This year sees the 35th running of the annual MG Classic race meeting at Circuit Chris Amon Manfeild.

The SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series 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 Supercharge Batteries.

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