Grant Martin makes it two F5000 race wins on his series’ return
And just like that, that’s it, the 2020/21 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is over for another year.
In a riveting 10-lap final race at the big HRC Events’ Paul Fahey Legends of Motorsport meeting at Hampton Downs this afternoon, category returnee Grant Martin (Talon MR1A) claimed his second SAS Autoparts MSC series race win of the weekend from a fast finishing Michael Collins (Leda GM1), with Kevin Ingram (Lola T332) third, Anna Collins (Leda LT27) fourth and Glenn Richards (Lola T400) fifth.
The race was livened up by the composition of the grid, with Grant Martin on pole and Michael Collins on the back of the grid thanks to their respective finishing places on the first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon.
Collins literally pulled out all the stops as he worked his way up through to a position where he could at least challenge for the lead. However the field spent three laps behind the Safety Car early on while Chris Watson’s Gardos was dug out of the gravel trap at the end of the short straight between Turns 1 and 2.
Once the track went green again Collins pinned his ears back and made it up to second place only for the chequered flag to come out just as he had locked his lasers onto Grant Martin’s Talon MR1/A.
”Seriously,” said Collins, “I really wanted to win that one and I would have had him if there had been one more lap.”
Earlier in the day Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) admitted to a tad of guilt having won the rolling start handicap race at a round of this season’s SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series for the third time in as many rounds.
“Just a little bit,” he laughed. “But what am I supposed to do when they give me a start time like they do?”
As it was the race – which was started in pit lane with the field split into different speed ‘bands’ – produced some impressive vision, with class coordinator Tony Jack congratulated on a job well done by the Clerk of the Course.
The first group away consisted of the Class A pair of Frank Karl (McLaren M10B) and Tony Roberts (McLaren M10A) while the last one had category newcomers Bruce Kett (Lola T332) and Chris Watson (Gardos) in it.
In between were Shayne Windelburn and Tim Rush (McLaren M22) then three other groups taking in the rest of the field.
Of those Kevin Ingram made it through to second place, Tim Rush to third and Russell Greer (Lola T332) to fourth before first lap leader Frank Karl who managed to hang on to fifth then Glenn Richards Michael Collins, Grant Martin, Tony Roberts, Anna Collins and Codie Banks.
Having been forced to sit out the other rounds of this season’s SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series when his work as an engineer dried up thanks to COVID-19 Grant Martin could hardly have had a better welcome back – both to a new work contract he has recently started, and to the SAS Autoparts MSC Series he originally joined six years ago.
Just when defending SAS Autoparts MSC Series title holder Michael Collins looked like wrapping up this season’s series Piha, Auckland resident Martin pulled his Talon MR1/A ‘out of the shed,’ qualified second to class young gun Collins then proceeded to lead the first race at the final round on Saturday afternoon from start-to-finish.
Collins did indeed find a place to get alongside and attempt to pass for the lead of that race as the pair entered the downhill hairpin – only to have one of his car’s half (drive) shafts let go at the exact same point, leaving the 25-year-old Christchurch ace stranded at the side of the track and Martin to complete the final lap unchallenged.
Codie Banks and fellow Lola T332 driver Kevin Ingram were the next pair home, though fourth quickest qualifier David Banks (Codie’s father) didn’t make the grid thanks to an issue with his Talon MR1’s crown and pinion.
On a charge meanwhile and very happy to make it as far forward as fourth place was Auckland ace Glenn Richards (Lola T400) who was relegated to start the race from P10 on the gird for a spin in the class qualifying session earlier in the day.
Guest driver Tom Alexander made a big impression in that session, setting the eight quickest lap time in the Class A (Pre ’71) McLaren M10B (400-08) originally raced in South Africa by Kipp Ackerman and recently acquired by local man Terry Honey.
Unfortunately a small engine bay oil fire saw the car returned to the F5000 pit on the back of a rescue truck it and did not make it back to the grid for that race or the two on Sunday.
Enjoying a trouble-free debut in his newly-acquired ex-Ian Riley Lola T332 was long-time tin-top man Bruce Kett whose measured approach saw him qualify 16th but finish Saturday’s race in 11th place. As the weekend went on, Kett got quicker and quicker, starting with 1.11s laps and finishing the weekend with a well-deserved 8th place and a fine 1.05 second lap time.
‘I’m just buzzing,” he said afterwards. “The car is just so different to anything else I have ever raced. Every time I go out in it I learn something!”
Finally, Class A for pre’71 cars was again dominated by a quick and consistent Frank Karl (McLaren M10B).
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.