Duelling Formula 5000 Lolas compete in Taupo
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Duelling mid-1970s Lola T332s were at the sharp end of the Formula 5000 field for Taupo’s Historic GP last weekend as Auckland racers Ken Smith and Andrew Higgins shared honours in round three of the SAS Autoparts/MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series.
Saturday saw veteran Smith in the ascendancy with a near-lap record qualifying effort to earn pole position ahead of Higgins and he secured a late-Saturday afternoon race win which required him to chase and pass Higgins during the early stages of the eight-lapper.
Sunday was Higgins’ opportunity to shine in the Stuart Lush-owned Lola T332 and he completed the first part of an F5000 double with an early pass and mistake-free drive under pressure from Smith, to win the morning preliminary by 0.26secs.
Tauranga's Mike Creswell made his debut in the F5000 series with his 1973 March 73A/1. Photo / Colin Smith
In the 10-lap Historic GP, Smith was out in front in the early laps but Higgins was able to complete a neat passing move on lap eight and edged away to take his second win of the day.
It was an eventful Taupo weekend for regular British visitor Greg Thornton who is campaigning his 3.4-litre quad cam Ford V6 powered March 75A against the 5.0-litre V8 cars.
A first corner touch with Michael Collins (Christchurch) on Saturday launched the March high in the air but the car landed on its wheels and Thornton was able to limp back to the pits. He posted a fifth place in race one and was involved in an early battle with series leader Collins for third spot in the feature race when the screaming V6 expired.
Thornton was launched into the air following first turn contact. Photo / Colin Smith
Collins led the F5000 series after the late-2017 rounds at Pukekohe and Manfeild and kept the points score rolling at Taupo.
Following Saturday’s first corner clash with Thornton, Collins was able to recover to fifth place and on Sunday was just shy of the pace of the leading Lola pair but able to achieve a pair of third placings driving Alister Hey’s McRae GM1.
The other crowd-pleasing class at Taupo was the Historic Muscle Cars with a tightly matched front-running trio of Chevrolet Camaro pilots Roger Williams (Drury) and Kevin Gimblett (Papamoa) battling with the 69 Ford Mustang of Dale Mathers (Tauranga). Williams won twice, Mathers once and the final reverse grid race was won by Greg Goudie (Red Beach) in his 5.0-litre Ford Capri.
Mount Maunganui's Peter Stevenson in action in the Historic Muscle Cars with his 1966 Ford Mustang. Photo / Colin Smith
The other expected Historic GP drawcard proved a disappointment with no-shows and reliability problems culling a 13-strong entry of Group A and Super Touring era cars from the Historic Touring car class to just three runners by Sunday.
Round four of the Tasman Revival Formula 5000 series is at Hampton Downs this weekend when the big 1970s single-seaters will share the programme with the contemporary open-wheelers and young stars of the future contesting round three of the 2018 Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
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