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Collins and Windelburn share NZ F5000 series spoils at Manfeild

Defending SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series title holder Michael Collins (Leda LT27/GM1) got his 2020/21 series campaign off to a winning start and finish at the opening round at the 35th annual MG Classic race meeting at Feilding’s Circuit Manfeild Chris Amon over the November 14-15 weekend.

Now behind the wheel of famed Kiwi racing driver and car designer and constructor Graham McRae’s distinctive ‘hot-pink’ STP-liveried Leda LT27/GM1 001 the 24-year-old series ‘young gun’ from Christchurch qualified quickest and won the first race of the 2020/21 SAS Autoparts MSC NZF5000 series season on Saturday afternoon from second quickest qualifier – and fellow front row starter – impressive local driver Kevin Ingram (Lola T332),

Collins also won Sunday’s 10-lap feature final in the afternoon though with Kevin Ingram out with a gearbox issue on the first lap competition this time came from Race 2 winner Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) from Auckland.

Widely regarded – around the world, not just here in NZ – for his knowledge and passion for ‘all things F5000’ – Shayne Windelburn, who runs the family gearbox and automatic transmission business on Auckland’s North Shore – is also an accomplished, and very quick driver.

For the new handicap initiative Race 2 was run under the order of the drivers’ best lap times of the weekend was reversed and the field split into six timed groups, each flagged off rolling start style.

Unfortunately, early race leader – and one of two newcomers to the SAS Autoparts MSC series making their debut at the MG Classic meeting – Toby Annabell from Hawera in nearby Taranaki in a Class A McLaren M10B – was an early retirement thanks to a fuel issue.

Fellow Class A runners Tony Roberts (high-wing McLaren M10A) and Frank Karl (McLaren M10B) then each briefly held the lead before both were overwhelmed by a hard charging Windelburn (who had started the race half way up the order), and Tim Rush in his Class A McLaren with category veteran Russell Greer (Lola T332) just hanging on to third place from a fast-finishing Michael Collins.

But that Collins, 24, reckons, was OK too.

“You can’t win every race you start, and I think it’s a good thing that the committee that runs the series is at least looking at – and now obviously trying out – some different starting formats. I know I was trying fairly hard to make up the deficit they gave me.’

For his part Shayne Windelburn was buzzing – as much about finishing second to Michael Collins in the feature final on Sunday afternoon, as he was winning the handicap race earlier in the day.

“I actually prefer the longer races because I get more time driving the car. And the more time I get behind the wheel the better I seem to go. Obviously I didn’t help my case by missing qualifying and having to start the first race from the back of the grid, but my son Joshua had a big running thing on at his school on Friday which obviously neither he nor I wanted him to miss, so we drove down on Saturday morning.

“We still got here in time for the race on Saturday and getting the win this morning was a real bonus.”

The other driver to make a big impression at the meeting was Anna Collins, driving the other Hey family-owned Leda LT27, the car which her younger brother Michael has been driving for the past three seasons.

Like Michael, Anna has a solid driving CV from 10 year racing karts at an Island and National level before spending the past five years contesting both the NZ Formula Ford championship and the South Island F1600 series.

Though she said that her plan at Manfeild was to ‘ease my way into the car and category’ the 28-year-old from Christchurch came away with two third places – in the scratch races – and seventh place on the handicap one on Sunday morning.

Not bad for a first attempt.

“Well, a first for the series anyway. I was lucky enough to get a race run in the car at the Wigram Revival meeting at Ruapuna last month but there is still a lot more for me to learn about the car itself and how I can get the most out of it.”

Category and series stalwart Tony Roberts (high-wing McLaren M10A) was back to his best in the now four-strong Class A category for older cars, twice leading home 2019/20 category winner Frank Karl (McLaren M10B) to the finish line and starting and finishing all three races. Compared to Karl’s two finishes and 1 DNF.

There is now a break of just over two months until the second round of the 2020/21 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 series at the annual Taupo Historic GP meeting featuring Ford in late January in the New Year,

Hopefully that will give the man behind series sponsor SAS Autoparts, David Banks (Talon MR1/A), the time to repair the damage to his car after a half (drive) shaft broke in the first race at Manfeild and put him out for the rest of the weekend.

Tony Galbraith’s Lola T332, only freshly re-built after a major crash at the Skope Classic meeting last year, also suffered early ‘meeting-over’ engine damage in qualifying at Manfeild, which – again, hopefully, can be sorted in time for the January – and subsequent 20/21 series meetings in February and March 2021.

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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