Lyons roars to F5000 clean sweep at Taupo Historic GP
Visiting UK driver Michael Lyons (Lola T400) roared to an SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series clean sweep on the second day of competition at the annual Taupo Historic GP classic car race meeting today.
After claiming pole position in qualifying on Saturday morning then smashing category stalwart Ken Smith’s F5000 class lap record on the way to a dominant win in the first SAS Autoparts MSC F5000 class race on Saturday afternoon, Lyons went on to win the other two races today, both again from fellow young gun – and Rnd 1 2019/20 series winner – Michael Collins (McRae GM1) from Christchurch.
“Not a bad weekend,” was how Lyons, whose father Frank and mother Judy, were also competing in the SAS Autoparts MSC series races, summed up his perfect start to what for he and his parents is the start of a three-round ‘busman’s holiday’ for the keen historic F1 and F5000 racing family from Essex.
Namesake Michael Collins (McRae GM1) edged ahead of Lyons at the start of the second race of the weekend, but that was as close as anyone got to unseat Lyons, the pair annexing the top two steps of the podium in all three races.
Third in the first race of the weekend went to David Banks (Talon MR1) from former series title holder Brett Willis (Lola T332) and local F5000 category stalwart Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400).
Series newcomer, and former New Zealand Formula Ford champion, Kevin Ingram (Lola T332) enjoyed one of his most competitive weekends since his return to the country’s motor racinf tracks, however, working his way through the field to claim a fighting third place in the second race, then fourth – behind a determined Grant Martin – in the feature race today.
Ingram ran comfortably in third early before Martin pressed his advantage to get past and go on to claim the final step on the podium behind Lyons and Collins.
Shayne Windleburn was again strong in the 10-laps feature final, ending up fifth after catching and eventually finding a way past David Banks on the fifth lap then inheriting fifth place when Brett Willis (Lola T332) slowed and retired to the pits with a recurrence of a gear selection issue which also forced him out of the second SAS Autoparts MSC series race in the morning,
David Banks soldiered on to finish sixth, again struggling for rear end grip, while seventh was expat Kiwi Warren Briggs driving Stu Lush’s Lola T332.
UK-based businessman Briggs, who is originally from Ashburton, and has raced extensively in the Historic F1 and Can-Am categories in the United States, qualified 8th quickest before a universal broke late in the session, meaning he missed Saturday’s race altogether.
He also only made it three laps into the second race on Sunday morning when he tangled with another car through Turn 2 and punctured a rear tyre.
Keen to actually finish at least one of the races on his NZ debut this weekend, he circulated cleanly in a mid-field battlepack with David Banks and Aaron Burson and looked set to cross the finish line in 8th place until Burson locked a wheel under brakes off the back straight as he tried to pass David Banks which gifted 7th place to Warren Briggs.
Tony Roberts (McLaren M10A) enjoyed a Michael Lyons-like record in the Class A race-within-a-race for older, pre-1972 cars. Roberts finished a weekend-best 7th in the second race of the weekend, beating fellow Class A competitor Frank Karl (McLaren M10B) three times and fellow McLaren driver Tim Rush (McLaren M22) twice.
Come the longer (10 lap) feature final, however, and Rush put in one of his best SAS Autoparts MSC series drives to date to not only catch and eventually find away past Roberts, but also to gradually pull away and cross the line in 11th place.