Supervet Ken Smith (Lola T332) enjoyed the perfect start to the race meeting named in his honour at Hampton Downs today, claiming pole position and the fastest lap on the way to a runaway win in the first SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series race of the weekend at the annual NZ Festival of Motor Racing.
In the first series’ race on the new 3.8km International circuit at the now Tony Quinn-owned Hampton Downs facility south of Auckland, category young gun Alan Dunkley (Lola T332) was quicker in both practise sessions on Friday and joined Smith on the front row of the grid.
In a bold move around the outside on the daunting downhill first turn and through the new section of the circuit Dunkley then edged ahead of the 75-year-old to lead the first two laps. Smith got back in front to lead the third lap, however, and Dunkley slowed then pulled off the track three laps later with engine issues.
With Dunkley out UK-based series returnee Mark Dwyer (Lola T332) inherited second after a race-long duel with high-profile local all-rounder Clark Proctor (March 73A/1).
Fellow Aucklander Grant Martin (Talon MR1A) started and finished fourth with Melbourne driver Paul Zazryn the first of the Australian competitors chasing Trans-Tasman Trophy points in fifth and working his way up from eighth place on the grid.
Sixth – after quickly shrugging off a three-place grid penalty for a spin in qualifying – was SAS Autoparts man David Banks (Talon MR1) with a gap back to Australian ace Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) then a close following Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) and Glenn Richards (Lola T400).
Richards was the big mover in the mid-pack, worked his way up from 15th on the grid to ninth at the flag.
First of series newcomers from the UK was Brit Chris Atkinson (Surtees TS8) who finished 13th ahead of Australian driver Peter Brennan (Lola T330), and Aaron Burson’s father Peter in his McRae GM1, with Ian Riley (Lola T332) 16th.
Action at the track and Ken Smith meeting continues tomorrow.
The 2016/17 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is organised and run with the support of sponsors SAS Autoparts, MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney’s Specialized Bulk Transport, Mobil Lubricants, Pacifica, Avon Tyres, Webdesign and Exide Batteries.