Pole man Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) stormed back to pip Steve Ross (McRae GM1) on the last lap and win the first MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival series race of the season at the Muscle Car Masters meeting in Sydney this afternoon. Defending MSC series title-holder Ross from Dunedin beat Melbourne man Sala and second quickest qualifier Ken Smith (Lola T430) from Auckland into Turn 1 at the beginning of the six-lap race at the recently revamped, extended and re-named Sydney Motorsport Park (nee Eastern Creek) venue. As Sala and Smith squabbled over second place Ross even managed to edge away from the pair.

Once Sala managed to shake off Smith - who, as it turned out, was struggling with gear selection issues - however, he was able to reel Ross in and pull off a daring dive for the lead at the circuit's downhill hairpin on the last lap.

"Kenny actually put the same move on me on the second lap, but that time we ran round side by side and I stayed in front," Sala said afterwards. "Once I caught up on Steve I could see he was struggling there a bit the lap before but I was too far back. The next lap was the last lap so when we came round again I knew it was now or never. The right front tyre locked up half way through the move but Steve gave me just enough room and we got through without touching which was obviously good."

Ross took the move with good grace, admitting that he had 'messed up' in the tight new section of track immediately before the hairpin, but still getting a surprise when he went to turn in.

"The first thing I knew about it was when he (Sala) was alongside me with smoke pouring off his tyres," he laughed. "He was pretty committed - we both were - but that's OK, I gave him some room. We both went out a long way but we both got round alright. The only problem was, by that stage, he was in front!"

Sala was not exactly hanging around on that last, eventful lap, setting a new category lap record for the new 'long' circuit of 1 min 50.2739, just over half a second quicker than the time that earned him pole position in qualifying, 1 min 50.8249.

The hairpin move on Ross was not the only one to change the final running order either, Auckland driver Roger Williams (Lola T332) also getting past Smith - whose car was by now jumping out of fifth gear - within sight of the chequered flag for third place.

Behind Sala, Ross, Williams and Smith, Melbourne-domiciled expat Chris Lambden started and finished fifth while Blenheim driver Russell Greer (Lola T332) got a great start to lead last season's MSC series runner-up Aaron Burson for sixth only to run out of petrol after three laps, allowing Burson, Australian Darcy Russell (Lola T300) and Aucklander Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) all to move up a place in the running order.

Christchurch series stalwart Stan Redmond qualified his newly restored and race-prepared ex-Warwick Brown Lola T333CS 12th on its long-awaited circuit return but ended his race in the pits, while fellow driver David Abbott crossed the finish line 11th after being forced to start off the back of the grid after failing to set a qualifying time thanks to a broken half shaft in practice then a magneto issue as his car was readied for qualifying.

Aucklander David Banks, in his second season in the MSC series, was the final member of the Kiwi contingent to finish the race, in 10th position just behind Australian Bill Hemmings (Elfin MR8) and in front of Abbott.

Clark Proctor (March 73A) made the trip from Auckland with the New Zealand contingent but only got as far as practice on Friday before engine issues sidelined him for the weekend.

Adelaide driver John Bryant (Lola T140) was also a non-starter thanks to crown wheel and pinion issues though local MSC series newcomer Rod Carroll had a good debut in his similar car, qualifying and finishing the first race in 13th position.

Compatriots Aaron Lewis (Matich A50) and Andrew Kluver (Lola T300) qualified for the race but problems with their cars meant they didn't get to start it.

Today's 6-lap race was one of three for the MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series field at the Muscle Car Masters meeting with another 6-lapper tomorrow (Sunday) morning and a 12-lap feature final in the afternoon.

1. Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) 1:50.8249
2. Ken Smith (Lola T430) 1:50.8586
3. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 1:51.1846
4. Roger Williams (Lola T332) 1:52.7058
5. Chris Lambden (McRae GM1) 1:53.2025
6. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 1:55.1800
7. Russell Greer (Lola T332)1:56.5937
8. Darcy Russell (Lola T330) 1:56.8319
9. David Banks (Talon MR1) 1:58.6802
10. Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) 2:00.5515
11. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8) 2:00.9172
12. Stan Redmond (Lola T333) 2:05.0453
13. Rod Carroll (Lola T140) 2:08.3975
14. Jay Bondini (Lola T332) 2:09.2789
15. Aaron Lewis (Matich A50) 2:36.8582
16. Andrew Kluver (Lola T300) 3:15.5289
17. David Abbott (Lola T430) no time

Race 1 (6 laps)
1. Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) 11:15.5011
2. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 11:15.9585
3. Roger Williams (Lola T332) 11:24.3676
4. Ken Smith (Lola T430)11:24.3880
5. Chris Lambden (McRae GM1) 11:44.2528
6. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 11:44.4473
7. Darcy Russell (Lola T330) 11:54.4631
8. Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) 12:05.7751
9. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8) 12:13.3133
10. David Banks (Talon MR1) 12:13.7076
11. David Abbott (Lola T430) 12:24.7496
12. Jay Bondini (Lola T332) 13:03.2248
13. Rod Carroll (Lola T140) 12:04.7287
DNF. Russell Greer (Lola T332), Stan Redmond (Lola T333) 3 laps

New category lap record: Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) 1:50.2739

Top Kiwi Steve Ross (McRae GM1) and top Aussie Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) ended up sharing the spoils at the opening round of the 2012/13 MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series in Sydney over the weekend.

The round was held at the annual Muscle Car Masters meeting at the recently extended and re-named Sydney Motorsport Park (nee Eastern Creek) with former Australian Touring Car and NASCAR driver Sala beating three-time former series champion Ken Smith (Lola T430) and defending champion Steve Ross to pole in qualifying then chasing a fast-starting Ross down on the last lap to win the first race of the weekend on Saturday.

Ross came back strongly on Sunday, however, winning the second race - another 6-lapper - in the morning from compatriots Roger Williams (Lola T332) and Aaron Burson (McRae GM1, and the 10-lap MSC feature in the afternoon from Smith, Sala and 2011/12 season series runner-up Aaron Burson (McRae GM1).

Though at just six laps the same length as the first race on Saturday, the second on Sunday took a heavy toll on equipment with nine dnfs, amongst them race one winner Sala, who pulled in when a rocker cover gasket burst and dipped oil onto his car;s left hand exhaust bank, Smith, who was a late retirement with a sticking throttle, and Jay Bondini, Russell Greer and Chris Lambden with broken input or half shafts.

Sala ran second for two laps before pitting to find the source of the smoke, elevating Roger Williams to second, Aaron Burson to third and the best of the Australians, Darcy Russell (Lola T330), to fourth.

Behind Russell, David Abbott (Lola T430) moved into fifth and Bill Hemmings (Elfin MR8) and David Banks (Talon MR1A) engaged in a spirited battle for sixth, eventually resolved in the local man (Hemmings') favour.

Between Sunday's two races one of the F5000 category's original heroes, Australian Warwick Brown, was re-united with one of the last cars he drove in the era, the Lola T333CS now owned and driven by Christchurch MSC series stalwart Stan Redmond.

Brown and Ken Smith were invited to join the 'Legends' demo, Brown in the Redmond car, Smith in the sister car to the one he usually drives, the other ex Warwick Brown car at the meeting, the Lola T430 now owned and driven by David Abbott.

Between races most of the issues which affected the cars in the second race were fixed and a full field again faced the starter for the 10-lap feature final in the afternoon.

A highlight of this race was the come-from-behind charges put in by drivers like Sala and Smith who because they failed to finish the second race started the third well down the grid.

Ross got his customary flier off the rolling start with Roger Williams tucking into second place for the first two laps before being forced to pull off the track with a diff problem. Where his car ended up was deemed dangerous so the Safety Car was dispatched while it was retrieved, bunching the field up and setting the scene for a tightly contested run to the flag.

With Williams out Bryan Sala, who has already worked his way back up the running order to fifth at the end of the first lap and third in the second, found himself in second place with Ken Smith following him through into third - where he stayed until a last lap move on Sala gave him second!

Behind Sala, meanwhile, Aaron Burson ran a lonely race for fourth from Darcy Russell, Chris Lambden, Russell Greer (Lola T332), David Abbott, David Banks - who this time got the better of Race 2 rival Bill Hemmings despite being back in 14th place at the end of the first lap - with Shayne Windelburn and Stan Redmond 11th and 12th respectively.

With a long-standing invitation to compete at the big Muscle Car Masters meeting prompting an earlier-than-usual start to the annual MSC F5000 series this year there is now a break until the second round back in New Zealand at the end of October (at the Lady Wigram Trophy meeting at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway in Christchurch) before a return to Sydney Motorsport Park for some of the series regulars for a non-championship round at Australia's own Tasman Revival Series meeting at the end of November.

The points rounds then resume back in New Zealand at the two NZ Festival of Motor Racing - celebrating Denny Hulme meeting at Hampton Downs in January before returning to the South Island for the penultimate series round at the annual Skope Classic meeting in Christchurch and final at the 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.

Race 2 (Sun 6 laps)
1. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 11:18.9274
2. Roger Williams (Lola T332) 11:32.0103
3. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 11:45.5182
4. Darcy Russell (Lola T330) 11:49.9436
5. David Abbott (Lola T430)11:59.1578
6. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8)12:08.7917
7. David Banks (Talon MR1)12:09.0163
8. Rod Carroll (Lola T140) 12:37.9529
DNF Stan Redmond, John Bryant, Bryan Sala, Shayne Windelburn, Jay Bondini, Chris Lambden, Russell Greer, Ken Smith Aaron Lewis.

Race 3 (Sun 10 laps)
1. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 20:22.8205
2. Ken Smith (Lola T430) 20:28.2912
3. Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) 20:28.6777
4. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 20:43.3458
5. Darcy Russell (Lola T330) 20:51.2960
6. Chris Lambden (McRae GM1) 20:53.7433
7. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 20:54.4756
8. David Abbott (Lola T430) 20:57.4244
9. David Banks (Talon MR1) 21:06.0364
10. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8) 21:06.7582
11. Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) 21:08.1619
12. Stan Redmond (Lola T333) 21:24.4759
13. Rod Carroll (Lola T140) 21:33.2430
14. Jay Bondini (Lola T332) 21:35.8148
DNF. Roger Williams (Lola T332)

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.

Warwick Brown re-united with the Lola T333CS he drove first time around.

Ken Smith, Bryan Sala and Steve Ross lead the field entering Turn 1 at the start.

Start of the feature race.

Race three podium (left to right) runner-up Ken Smith, winner Steve Ross and third place-getter Bryan Sala.