LOCAL F5000 CARS/DRIVERS SWEEP THE FLOOR AT SKOPE CLASSIC MEETING IN CHRISTCHURCH OVER THE WEEKEND.
They came, they saw, and at the 33rd Skope Classic motor racing meeting at Christchurch’s freshly re-named Euromarque (nee Mike Pero) Motorsport Park (Ruapuna) over the weekend, local driver Michael Collins (Leda GM1 001) and fellow Mainlander Steve Ross (McRae GM1 009) conquered, sweeping all before them in qualifying and across all three SAS Autoparts MSC NZF5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series races at the meeting.
Right from the qualifying session on Saturday morning the pair were wickedly quick, with category young gun, Michael Collins’ pole time of 1:18.858, 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 Steve Ross was the second quickest qualifier with a time of 1.20.792, and 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 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 race of the weekend (on Saturday afternoon) was a stunner, 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 ….. and the rest of field by close to half a minute.
Third home was indeed third quickest qualifier Kevin 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 for the SAS Autoparts MSC NZF5000 series field 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’s 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 this race which included both Collins’cars, Michael’s with a misfire, Anna’s 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 Kevin 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 2002/23 season rounds, the first in just a fortnight’s time (February 25/26) 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 SAS Autoparts MSC F5000s will be on track across all three days of the Jim Palmer meeting, with morning and afternoon practise sessions on Friday, qualifying in the morning and the first race of the weekend on Saturday then the other two races – including the longer meeting feature – on Sunday.
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 Exide Batteries.