Classic racers take to Taupo for the annual Historic Grand Prix
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Talented young British racer Michael Lyons made a winning return to New Zealand competition at the weekend with a clean sweep of the fourth annual Taupo Historic Grand Prix at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park.
Driving a 1974 Lola T400 in the Formula 5000 feature category, Lyons won both the Saturday and Sunday preliminary races ahead of SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series points leader Michael Collins (Christchurch) in a 1972 McRae GM1.
In the 10-lap Grand prix raced on Sunday afternoon, Lyons took the lead at the rolling start and steadily edged away to win by 9.6secs from Collins.
In each of the three races Lyons went below Ken Smith’s three-year old Formula 5000 lap record and Lyons’ Saturday lap of 1m 25.301s stands as a half-second improvement and the new benchmark for the 5.0-litre V8 powered open wheelers.
The rest of the running order among the F5000 field changed around significantly over the course of the weekend.
Aucklander David Banks (1974 Talon MR1) was third on Saturday ahead of Rotorua’s Brett Willis (1973 Lola T330) but on Sunday it was Feilding’s Kevin Ingram (1976 Lola T332) and Aucklander Grant Martin (1974 Talon MR1A) who both bounced back from issues in Saturday’s race to trade the third and fourth placings.
Banks and Glenfield’s Shayne Windelburn (1975 Lola T400) exchanged the fifth and sixth positions on Sunday.
The combined Historic Muscle Car and Historic Saloon Car groups used a mixture of grid formats to deliver four different winners from four races.
Tauranga’s Dale Mathers (1969 Boss 302 Mustang) and Queenslander Ian Woodward (1968 Camaro) won the Saturday races while on Sunday Papamoa’s Kevin Gimblett (1967 Camaro) and Brady McCaughan of Kerikeri in his 5.0-litre Ford Capri were the race winners.
Nostalgia of a more recent vein was provided by the Tranzam Register with the early 2000s tube frame V8 racers which were at one time New Zealand’s premier saloon car class.
Eight-time NZ speedway Sprint Car champion Kerry Jones (Waiuku) won the first two races in his C6 Corvette but ran wide at the first corner of race three which allowed Tauranga’s Rob Bergren to seize the lead in his Dodge Viper and stay in front.
Aucklander Martin Lucas driving his 1972 Lotus 69 – one of the oldest cars in the field – claimed three wins from four starts in the Historic Formula Ford category with Noel Woodford (Auckland) winning the Saturday morning race in his 1973 Dulon MP15.
Matamata’s Gordon Burr claimed three wins in the Historic Sports Sedan and Allcomers Saloon Car category in his V8 powered Mk 1 Escort.
Round three of the Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is main drawcard of the Skope Classic meeting at Christchurch’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park over the February 1-2 weekend.