Birthday boy Michael Lyons (Lola T400) has extended his MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival series winning streak with another lights-to-flag victory at the second New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meeting at Hampton Downs today. But celebrations are on hold until tomorrow night.
"Yes," said the young British driver who turned 23 day today."While it's great to be able to win a race on your birthday I won't be doing much partying tonight. I've got two more races to try and win tomorrow!"
Series young gun Lyons, who won all three races and lowered his own outright track lap record at the first of two NZ Festival meetings at Hampton Downs last weekend, claimed pole for today's race with the only sub one minute (59.585) qualifying lap and won the 8-lap race from the turbocharged 1985 Ferrari F1 car of special event and MSC F5000 series guest Guido Belgiorno-Nettis.
Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) was the best of the local MSC series drivers in third place with Tony Richards (Lola T332) fourth on his category return and Lyons' father Frank (Gurney-Eagle FA74) fifth.
After two storming 'through-the-field' drives at the first NZ Festival meeting last weekend Auckland driver Clark Proctor (March 75A) was again on form this weekend, joining Michael Lyons on the front row of the grid. However after running a comfortable second to Lyons early on he was a late retirement when his detected something not quite right in his car's driveline.
"I picked up a bit of a vibration and decided it was safer to pit rather than push on and potentially do something that might take us out of the weekend again," he said.
After a best placing of sixth at the first NZ Festival of Motor Racing (which this year celebrated the Ferrari marque) Sydney businessman/racer Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (Ferrari 156/85T F1) showed the benefit of track familiarity today, qualifying fourth before spending the first two laps battling for third with Andrew Higgins and the last two closing in on Michael Lyons after Clark Proctor pitted.
"The Formula 5000s have so much torque it is hard to stay with them out of the corners but my car was better from the big sweeper onto the start/finish straight and at the end of the straight into Turn 1,
For his part Andrew Higgins said he enjoyed the unique opportunity of dicing with a genuine Formula 1 Ferrari but that in the end it came down to horsepower.
"That thing is just so fast in a straight line - and so it should be - from the hairpin to the end of the start.finish straight it is just gone!" he said.
With a three-lap yellow flag period bunching up the field the margins between cars remained close with plenty of action through the 18-strong field.
Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) and Calven Bonney (Begg 018) enjoyed a particularly spirited dice as they disputed sixth place with Bonney, back in his car after a comprehensive rebuild which took over 18 months, positively beaming when he got back to the pits.
"It's definitely good to be back and I'm doing better than I thought I would," he said.
McRae GM1 driver Alastair Russell was another driver in a positive frame of mind, despite having to start from the back row of the grid after failing to post a qualifying time.
Russell spent the race stalking and finally getting the better of fellow McRae GM1 driver Peter Burson and said that - hopefully - he has sorted the oil foaming and pressure issues, that he has been struggling with over the past two seasons.
Disappointed not to get to the flag, meanwhile, was Brett Willis (Lola T330), who had to pull off the track on the last lap with a fuel starvation issue.
Finally, in the MSC F5000 series' new 'battle-of-the-brothers' Christchurch-based Tony Richards (Lola T332) finished fourth his Auckland-based sibling Glenn (Lola T4000) tenth.
The MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is organised and run with the support of sponsors MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney's Specialized Bulk Transport, Mobil Lubricants, Pacifica, Avon Tyres, Webdesign and Exide.
Prepared by FAST COMPANY of behalf of the New Zealand Formula 5000 Association www.F5000.co.nz For more information about the 2013/14 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series contact Ross MacKay on 021 677 919 or via e-mail on email@example.com