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Long time between drinks, but former Champ wins again in first F5000 series race at Taupo

It has indeed been a ‘long time between drinks’ for the fastest qualifier and winner of the first SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series race of the weekend, Kevin Ingram (Lola T332), at the third and final round at the Taupo International Motorsport track on Saturday (May 14).

“That’s right,” the now retired former small business owner said after his breakthrough ‘second-time around’ win in the highly competitive New Zealand-based historic single-seater motor racing series. “It’s definitely been a while.”

“ I won the New Zealand Formula Ford championship series title in 1983 but it would have been the year after that when I won my last race. So, 1984, which makes it – what?- 38 years.

“So yes, I suppose you could say that it has been a long time between drinks.”

Long or short, it was certainly a real ‘red letter’ day for Ingram who reprised his ‘first time around’ career nickname ‘The Feilding Flyer’ with a stunning pole lap of 1:26.550 (just over a second quicker than the mid 1:27 sec laps set by joint pre-event favourites Steve Ross from Dunedin (McRae GM1) and Aucklander Grant Martin (Talon MR1/A).

And though it was a determined Steve Ross who helped himself to an early lead in the first race of the weekend, held in fine, cool weather and track conditions mid-afternoon, Ingram was in a lead he never even remotely looked like losing again, well before the end of the first lap, Ross having spun away his early advantage as he exited the circuit’s first up-and-down, multi-corner complex.

With Ross having to wait for every other car in the 13-strong field to pass before he could get going again, it left Grant Martin and his sweet handling Talon MR1/A as the meat in a high-speed Lola T332 sandwich; with Kevin Ingram setting a punishing pace ahead and the ever-improving Tony Galbraith matching Martin’s lap times just behind.

Mix in a crusading Glenn Richards (LolaT400), the only other driver apart from Ingram to dip below the 1:28 barrier in the race as he chased down Tony Galbraith, a hard charging Steve Ross who – somehow – managed to work his way back up through a quality field to cross the finish line after just 8 laps in 5th place, and the return to the series of Russell Greer and his ex-Graeme Lawrence Lola T332 and the large and appreciative crowd certainly got their money’s worth from the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival series field.

After qualifying then finishing the race in 6th place Greer expressed himself well-pleased – both with the car, and the recent work done on it.

Series newcomer Bruce Kett (Lola T332) and Class A winner Toby Annabell (McLaren M10B) were both also ‘very happy’ with the way their respective days panned out.

The ever-improving Kett went quicker and quicker as the day went on, taking almost a second out of his (8th) best qualifying time in the first race to cross the line 7th, albeit just 0.638 of a fast-finishing Tim Rush (McLaren M22) who was 8th.

With both the other McLaren M10B drivers having a troubled day Toby Annabell put in a blinder of a run in his car, qualifying it 9th quickest with a 1:35.107 (over five seconds faster than both Roberts and Karl) and ending up 10th in the race.

Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400), meanwhile, was just happy to be back in the cockpit for the first time this season, after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed his original plans to compete at all of the rounds.

Windelburn was able to lap quicker than the drivers immediately in front of him but crossed the finish line in 9th place after starting from the back row of the grid having failed to make it to the track in time for the morning qualifying session.

Not so happy however was Chevron B32 driver Alastair Chalmers (slowed by an engine misfire), who finished 11th, or Class A stalwarts Tony Roberts (handling issues with his McLaren M10B which saw him drop to 12th spot) and Frank Karl, the only driver who failed to finish the first race after spinning then being unable to restart his McLaren M10B’s engine

With two more races on the programme (including another of the category’s popular ‘Rolling Handicap Start’ 8-lappers in the morning) there should be even more action on track on Sunday.

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.

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