Major changes to the re-named Sydney Motorsport Park (nee Eastern Creek) circuit in Sydney's outer west mean there will be a level playing field for New Zealand and Australian competitors alike at the opening round of the 2012/13 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series there this weekend. Earlier this year the re-vamped venue was re-opened with a new six-corner section of track at the south-east end of the complex taking the full length from 3.9 kms to 4.5. Though the V8 Supercar series used the shorter 3.9km 'Grand Prix' circuit there last weekend the MSC F5000s and other categories at the big Muscle Car Masters meeting this weekend will use the full 4.5km one.

Defending MSC NZ F5000 series champion Steve Ross (McRae GM1) from Dunedin has competed at Eastern Creek before. But a broken input shaft and rear hub meant he got little quality race time in on the track so reckons he will be in the same boat as everyone else, the nine Australian competitors included.

"What I can remember about it is that it's bloody fast and you get round Turn 1 in a hell of a hurry so hopefully we will have plenty of time to get our heads around the place on Friday," he said this morning.

Ross heads an 11-strong contingent of Kiwis crossing the Tasman for the opening round of the 2012/13 MSC series with support from a key group of New Zealand racers including three-time former series champion Ken Smith (Lola T430), 2011/12 season series runner-up Aaron Burson (McRae GM1), fellow Aucklanders Roger Williams (Lola T332), Clark Proctor (March 73A), Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) and David Banks (Talon MR1A), Blenheim driver Russell Greer (Lola T332) and David Abbott (Lola T430) and Stan Redmond (Lola T333 CS) from Christchurch.

There will be particular interest at the meeting in the Lola T333 CS Redmond has just had restored and race prepared, it having been driven first time around (both in wide-bodied Can-Am and single-seater F5000 spec) by Australian ace Warwick Brown.

Expected to take the battle to the Kiwis at the meeting are top Australian F5000 category exponents Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) and Aaron Lewis (Matich A50). Young gun Tom Tweedie, a former Formula Ford and Formula 3 series front-runner this year contesting the Carrera Cup Australia series in a Porsche GT3 Cup car is also an interesting addition to the field in a Chevron B24/28.

Meanwhile, not quite knowing where his allegiance lies is expat Kiwi Chris Lambden who has lived for many years in Melbourne but drives a McRae GM1 rebuilt and run by F5000 category specialists Motorsport Solutions in his old home town of Christchurch!

The appearance at the popular Muscle Car Masters meeting has meant an earlier than usual start for the 2012/13 MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series. The first New Zealand round is the now traditional one at the Lady Wigram Trophy meeting at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park in late October, then it will be back to Sydney Motorsport Park for some of the competitors for a non-points round at Australia's big Tasman Revival meeting in late November.

The points rounds then resume at the Hampton Downs circuit back in New Zealand for the two NZ Festival of Motor Racing - celebrating Denny Hulme meetings over consecutive weekends in late January before the series heads south for the annual Skope Classic meeting in Christchurch and Classic Speedfest meeting at Invercargill's Teretonga Park in February.

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, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide.

2012/13 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Calendar
Rnd 1: Aug 31-Sept 02 2012 Muscle Car Masters meeting Sydney Motorsport Park (Eastern Creek) Sydney (full circuit)

Rnd 2: Oct 26-28 2012 Wigram Revival meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch

Rnd 3: Nov 23-25 2012 Tasman Revival meeting Sydney Motorsport Park (Eastern Creek) Sydney (non-points)

Rnd 4: Jan 18-20 2013 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - Denny Hulme meeting x 1 Hampton Downs Auckland

Rnd 5: Jan 25-27 2013 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - Denny Hulme meeting x 2 Hampton Downs Auckland

Rnd 6: Feb 01-03 2013 Skope Classic meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch (provisional)

Rnd 7: Feb 15-17 2013 Classic Speedfest meeting Teretonga Park Invercargill (provisional)

Photos Fast Company/Alex Mitchell.

MSC series regular Stan Redmond with his latest car (#111), an ex Warwick Brown Lola T333CS.