Defending MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series champion Steve Ross (McRae GM1) was back on the top step of the podium on the first day of competition at the second NZ Festival of Motor Racing - celebrating Denny Hulme at Hampton Downs this afternoon.
After pipping first round race winner Ken Smith (Lola T332) in qualifying in the morning Ross got the jump on Smith and series returnee Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) in the weekend's first MSC series race and was never headed, setting the fastest race lap on his way to crossing the finish line after eight scintillating laps just under a half a second ahead of Smith and just over five seconds in front of Higgins with first NZ Festival round fast man Clark Proctor (March 73A-1) fourth, and the first of the visiting contingent of British drivers, Greg Thornton (McRae GM1), fifth.

Ross twice finished second to Smith at the first NZ Festival round at Hampton Downs last weekend and made no secret of his disappointment both in not qualifying better - he ended up third behind Proctor and Smith - and having to play second fiddle to Smith in the races.

This time there was no holding the Dunedin man and after the race a frown had been replaced with a wide smile.

"Yes," he grinned, "there was a bit of a point to prove after last weekend. This time though we had a really good qualifying session this and we did enough to stay in front in the race. It's always good to beat Kenny of course, particularly on his home turf!'

Smith, the 71-year-old veteran now back behind the wheel of the Lola T332 he co-owns with crew members Barry Miller and Phil Richardson, was able to bridge the gap when the pair caught the tail-enders of the 27-strong field but the flag came out before he could get within striking distance.

Smith was not exactly disappointed with second place though, reckoning that in Sunday's longer feature he will have a better chance.

"Steve had the same sort of pace last weekend, it's just that this time he got off the line better. He's got some wicked straight line speed but I think my car is working better than his and over 15 laps I think I could hunt him down."

And Proctor?

After beating both Ross and Smith to pole position at the first NZ Festival meeting last weekend the popular Auckland all-rounder experimented with a new nosecone this weekend, and reaped the reward or paid the price, depending on your perspective.

"As a team we decided this weekend to use the meeting as a test weekend to try and learn a bit more about our car. So we fitted a new Formula 1 nose cone that came with the car. Like everyone this weekend we've been struggling with front end grip and we knew it was a big call but we put it on for qualifying, changed springs and a few other things and sure enough we picked up a huge amount of front grip. The problem was that we lost rear grip and the car was so unstable I couldn't use full throttle."

That meant Proctor lined up in fifth place on the grid. An aggressive start saw him make up two places on the first lap, but entering the second he ran wide exiting the first turn and promptly lost those places back, but he persevered and made one back to cross the finish line in fourth place.

Behind Ross, Smith and Higgins, Proctor spent the race working his way back past Greg Thornton (McRae GM1) and Mark Dwyer (Lola T400) while Melbourne's Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) found himself following the high-wing Class A Lola T140 of category young gun Alan Dunkley.

Dunkley went even quicker in qualifying at this weekend's meeting and forced his way through to seventh on the first lap. Early on he easily led Zazryn who in turn had an advantage over Brett Willis (Lola T330), and Australian Aaron Lewis (Matich A50) but towards the end of the race Zazryn found a way past Dunkley to cross the line in seventh position.

An early casualty was British visitor Michael Whatley (Lola T300) who pitted when he lost oil pressure. Local class stalwart Poul Christie (McLaren M10B) also pulled into the pits, but in his case it was because of his concerns with the low grip levels off the racing line on a couple of corners resealed overnight after the track surface broke up on Friday.

Making history for the second weekend in a row, meanwhile, were Talon drivers David Banks and Aaron Burson. Only five Talons were made and at the moment only two are in race-ready condition - and those two are being raced at Hampton Downs this weekend.

"It's amazing isn't it," said Banks who finished 16th in today's race. "It's probably been 30 years since there have been two Talons on the same track at the same time."

Finally, enjoying a better run this weekend was American veteran Eric Haga. Last weekend the 72-year-old F5000 series original struggled with fuel and handling issues and didn't finish a race. This weekend he qualified in 25th place and ran a strong race to finish 23th.

"It was a clogged pressure relief valve in fuel injection system," explained Haga. "But everything is fine now."

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, Avon Tyres and Exide. It continues with two more races tomorrow.

2012/13 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Rnd 5 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - celebrating Denny Hulme meetings Hampton Downs Northern Waikato Fri-Sun Jan 25-27 2013

1. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 1.00.004
2. Ken Smith (Lola T332) 1.00.716
3. Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) 1.01.255
4. Greg Thornton (McRae GM1) 1.01.847
5. Clark Proctor (March 73A-1) 1.02.200
6. Mark Dwyer (Lola T400) 1.02.223
7. Peter Dunn (March 73A/05) 1.02.389
8. Michael Whatley (Lola T300) 1.02.741
9. Chris Lambden (McRae GM1) 1.02.880
10. Alan Dunkley (Lola T140) 1.03.081
11. Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) 1.03.183
12. Brett Willis (Lola T330) 1.03.563
13. Aaron Lewis (Matich A50)1.04.106
14. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 1.04.662
15. Aaron Burson (Talon MR1) 1.04.671
16. Peter Sundberg (Lola T332) 1.04.794
17. Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) 1.04.970
18. Bryan Sala (Matich A50/51) 1.05.293
19. Bruce Leeson (McLaren M10B) 1.05.408
20. David Banks (Talon MR1) 1.06.464
21. Peter Burson (McRae GM1) 1.06.771
22. Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5) 1.07.801
23. Rod Carroll (Lola T140) 1.07.923
24. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8AC) 1.10.469
25. Eric Haga (Lola T190) 1.12.918
26. Poul Christie (McLaren M10B) 1.15.354
27. John Bryant (Lola T140) 1.17.897

Race 1 (8 laps)
1. Steve Ross 8:19.255
2. Ken Smith +0.426
3. Andrew Higgins +5.385
4. Clark Proctor +8.520
5. Greg Thornton +20.852
6. Mark Dwyer +20.974
7. Paul Zazryn +24.819
8. Alan Dunkley +26.237
9. Brett Wilis +28.804
10. Peter Dunn +34.846
11. Chris Lambden +42.610
12. Aaron Burson +47.281
13. Russell Greer +48.308
14. Peter Sundberg 49.187
15. Shayne Windelburn +50.040
16. David Banks +55.509
17. Aaron Lewis +55.984
18. Bryan Sala +1.00.559
19. Warwick Mortimer +1 lap
20. Rod Carroll +1 lap
21. Peter Burson +1 lap
22. Bill Hemming +1 lap
23. Eric Haga +1 lap
24. John Bryant +1 lap
DNF Poul Christie, Bruce Leeson, Michael Whatley.

Fastest lap. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 1:00.813

High-profile Auckland all-rounder Clark Proctor (March 73A-1) is the latest MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series race winner after a popular lights-to-flag win in the feature 15-lap final at the second NZ Festival of Motor Racing - celebrating Denny Hulme at Hampton Downs today.

Defending series champion and current series points leader Steve Ross (McRae GM1) beat Proctor and first NZ Festival meeting race winner Ken Smith (Lola T332) to the top spot in qualifying on Saturday and to the finish line in the eight lap preliminary races on Saturday and Sunday morning - but the afternoon's race was a Proctor benefit from start to finish.

"I knew my car could turn in nice and tight at Turn 1 on cold tyre and I knew Steve (Ross) would diamond the corner as he always does and that that would probably catch Kenny out and that's exactly what happened," said the former Speedway, NZV8s and Targa front-runner. "It was great to see that chequered flag and great to get a win in this series."

With Proctor forcing his way into the lead through the first corner and series returnee Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) following him through the first lap of the feature looked very different to those of the two preliminaries. Ross initially held third place from Smith and visiting British drivers Greg Thornton (McRae GM1), Mark Dwyer (Lola T400) and Peter Dunn but Higgins pulled out after only three laps and Ross overcooked it heading into the first turn on the fourth lap, spinning and losing several places as he scrambled to get back onto the track.

"I was trying to get past somebody and I went in a bit hot," he explained.

That gave both Proctor and Smith some breathing space as the pair eased away from Thornton, Dwyer, a recovering Ross, Brett Willis (Lola T330), Paul Zazryn (Lola T332), Peter Dunn (March 73A)and young gun Alan Dunkley in the first of the older Class A cars, a high-wing Lola T140.

For the next six laps Smith was never more than two or three car lengths behind Proctor with Ross getting past Thornton but too far behind the make any real impression on the front pair.

Then there was Proctor and a big gap to Smith, the ageless veteran having survived a wild ride through the gravel trap on the outside of the downhill Turn 9 after having being forced wide as he was working his way through lapped traffic.

Like Ross, Smith was able to rejoin the track, in this case without losing a place, but the pressure was off Proctor and by the time the chequered flag came out he was just over eight seconds ahead of Smith with Ross third a further four seconds down the track, Thornton, Dwyer and Brett Willis making up the top six and Alan Dunkley again the first of the Class A runners home in seventh.

Earlier, Australian Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) had led Monaco-based Brit Peter Dunn (March 73A), Dunkley and the Matich A50s of Australians Aaron Lewis and Bryan Sala but by race end Dunkley had found a way past both Dunn and Zazryn and Sala had worked his way Lewis and Dunn to cross the line in ninth place.

Race 2 (8 laps)
Earlier in the day there was also drama in the second MSC series race of the weekend, the Safety Car deployed after Andrew Higgins spun and beached his car on the second lap then the race red flagged when visiting Australian driver Rod Carroll spun and made light contact with the pit wall at the end of the start/finish straight.

Race one winner Steve Ross again got the jump on fellow front row starter Ken Smith off the rolling start with Higgins and Thornton slotting into third and fourth place respectively until Thornton was tapped into a spin exiting Turn 8 and Higgins followed suit on Turn 9. Before the race was stopped Clark Proctor held fourth from Mark Dwyer, expat Chris Lambden (McRae GM1), Paul Zazryn and Peter Dunn (March 73A-5).

When the race was re-started Ross again got the jump on Smith and Dwyer with Proctor fourth, Lambden fifth, Zazryn sixth and a battle pack of Peter Dunn, Brett Willis and Australian Aaron Lewis disputing seventh.

A lap later Proctor had got past Dwyer only to spin himself back down the order.

"I set off after Kenny, and was making big inroads into him and Steve over the back," said Proctor. "Unfortunately I had a little bit of a moment entering Turn 9 and dropped what I had made up so I was trying hard the next lap when I just got caught out and the car swapped ends exiting Turn 3. I ended up in the gravel but luckily managed to get it out and carry on."

That left Dwyer unchallenged in third place with Lambden fourth and Dunn fifth, until the latter slowing, however, as his car's engine was starved for fuel.

That allowed Willis, Zazryn and Aaron Lewis to move up a place, Lewis finally able to show the potential of his Matich A50 after sorting out a fuel issue which he had been battling 'for three or four meetings.'

"Yeah," he said. "It was just what I'll call an intermittent wire fault which we have now fixed, as well as a couple of other little issues and I can now battle the guys I normally battle."

Having been able to get back onto the track after his own spin and join the grid for the re-start, Greg Thornton worked his way back up to eighth, crossing the line in front of a close-running Peter Sundberg (Lola T332), Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) and Russell Greer (Lola T332).

In 12th place when the flag came out was Clark Proctor in front of Talon man David Banks, Peter Burson (McRae GM1), Bryan Sala (forced to pit early to remove a loose muffler) and Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5). Andrew Higgins recovered to finish 20th, Alan Dunkley - who had to pit for repairs to his car's nose cone - 22nd.

Race 2 (8 laps)
1. Steve Ross 10.38.893
2. Ken Smith +0.467
3. Mark Dwyer +9.066
4. Chris Lambden +15.492
5. Brett Willis +16.006
6. Paul Zazryn +16.387
7. Aaron Lewis +20.843
8. Greg Thornton +23.669
9. Peter Sundberg +23.674
10. Shayne Windelburn +24.501
11. Russell Greer +32.250
12. Clark Proctor +33.206
13. David Banks +36.639
14. Peter Burson +37.994
15. Bryan Sala +40.283
16. Warwick Mortimer +43.122
17. Bill Hemming +45.025
18. Poul Christie +1.04.755
19. John Bryant +1 lap
20. Andrew Higgins +1 lap
21. Eric Haga +1 lap
22. Alan Dunkley +1 lap
DNF Peter Dunn, Rod Carroll, Aaron Burson

Fastest race lap: Ken Smith Lola T332) 1.00.026

Race 3 (15 laps)
1. Clark Proctor 15.93.213
2. Ken Smith +8.362
3. Steve Ross +12.434
4. Greg Thornton +24.559
5. Mark Dwyer +26.022
6. Brett Willis +31.200
7. Alan Dunkley +37.413
8. Paul Zazryn +44.821
9. Bryan Sala +54.085
10. Peter Dunn +57.575
11. Aaron Lewis +1.01.497
12. Peter Sundberg +1 lap
13. Russell Greer +1 lap
14. David Banks +1 lap
15. Aaron Burson +1 lap
16. Warwick Mortimer +2 laps
17. Poul Christie +2 laps
18. Eric Haga +3 laps
19. John Bryant +3 laps
DNF Chris Lambden, Shayne Windelburn, Bill Hemming, Andrew Higgins

Fastest race lap: Ken Smith (Lola T332) 1.01.155

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

All pictures courtesy of Fast Company/Alex Mitchell.

Steve Ross (McRae GM1) leads Ken Smith's T332 and the rest of the 27-strong MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series race at Hampton Downs.

Paul Zazryn (T332) and Alan Dunkley (T140) were this close all race.

Andrew Higgins (T400) finished third on his return to the MSC Series.