2013/14 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series
Round 3

NZFMR Ferrari Festival

2013/14 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Rnd 3
2014 NZFMR Ferrari Festival
Hampton Downs Nth Waikato

Jan 24-16 2014


Birthday boy Michael Lyons (Lola T400) has extended his MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival series winning streak with another lights-to-flag victory at the second New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meeting at Hampton Downs today. But celebrations are on hold until tomorrow night.

"Yes," said the young British driver who turned 23 day today. "While it's great to be able to win a race on your birthday I won't be doing much partying tonight. I've got two more races to try and win tomorrow!"

Series young gun Lyons, who won all three races and lowered his own outright track lap record at the first of two NZ Festival meetings at Hampton Downs last weekend, claimed pole for today's race with the only sub one minute (59.585) qualifying lap and won the 8-lap race from the turbocharged 1985 Ferrari F1 car of special event and MSC F5000 series guest Guido Belgiorno-Nettis.

Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) was the best of the local MSC series drivers in third place with Tony Richards (Lola T332) fourth on his category return and Lyons' father Frank (Gurney-Eagle FA74) fifth.

After two storming 'through-the-field' drives at the first NZ Festival meeting last weekend Auckland driver Clark Proctor (March 75A) was again on form this weekend, joining Michael Lyons on the front row of the grid. However after running a comfortable second to Lyons early on he was a late retirement when his detected something not quite right in his car's driveline.

"I picked up a bit of a vibration and decided it was safer to pit rather than push on and potentially do something that might take us out of the weekend again," he said.

After a best placing of sixth at the first NZ Festival of Motor Racing (which this year celebrated the Ferrari marque) Sydney businessman/racer Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (Ferrari 156/85T F1) showed the benefit of track familiarity today, qualifying fourth before spending the first two laps battling for third with Andrew Higgins and the last two closing in on Michael Lyons after Clark Proctor pitted.

"The Formula 5000s have so much torque it is hard to stay with them out of the corners but my car was better from the big sweeper onto the start/finish straight and at the end of the straight into Turn 1. he explained.

For his part Andrew Higgins said he enjoyed the unique opportunity of dicing with a genuine Formula 1 Ferrari but that in the end it came down to horsepower.

"That thing is just so fast in a straight line - and so it should be - from the hairpin to the end of the start.finish straight it is just gone!" he said.

With a three-lap yellow flag period bunching up the field the margins between cars remained close with plenty of action through the 18-strong field.

Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) and Calven Bonney (Begg 018) enjoyed a particularly spirited dice as they disputed sixth place with Bonney, back in his car after a comprehensive rebuild which took over 18 months, positively beaming when he got back to the pits.

"It's definitely good to be back and I'm doing better than I thought I would, "he said.

McRae GM1 driver Alastair Russell was another driver in a positive frame of mind, despite having to start from the back row of the grid after failing to post a qualifying time.

Russell spent the race stalking and finally getting the better of fellow McRae GM1 driver Peter Burson and said that - hopefully - he has sorted the oil foaming and pressure issues, that he has been struggling with over the past two seasons.

Disappointed not to get to the flag, meanwhile, was Brett Willis (Lola T330), who had to pull off the track on the last lap with a fuel starvation issue.

Finally, in the MSC F5000 series' new 'battle-of-the-brothers' Christchurch-based Tony Richards (Lola T332) finished fourth his Auckland-based sibling Glenn (Lola T4000) tenth.

There were some anxious moments for MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series pace-setter Michael Lyons (Lola T400) before he successfully completed another race clean sweep at the second New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing meeting at Hampton Downs today.

Lyons, who qualified on pole and won the first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon, was leading the second MSC race on Sunday morning when it was red flagged, while he had to nurse his car home from half distance in the 15-lap final when an exhaust header cracked then ran under his car's right rear wheel when it (the header) finally broke off.

"I heard it crack first," said the just-turned 23-year-old, "then a couple of laps later the engine note changed again and when I looked in the mirror after the car suddenly jumped sideways when I was accelerating out of the sweeper there was a big cut in the right rear tyre so I spent the rest of the race thinking that I needed to keep going fast enough so that the boys behind me didn't think they had a chance of catching me but not so fast that I was going to risk blowing the tyre because if it was going to go it was going to be a big one."

After the second weekend race was considered null and void because it was red flagged before 75% of its full distance was completed after Brett Willis (Lola T330) hit the start/finish straight wall when he lost control on oil dropped from another car, the 15-lap final also started - literally - under a cloud.

First it was brought forward until just after lunch because of the threat of rain. Then, just as the field thundered out onto the track for the warm-up laps light rain started to fall, prompting race organizers to call the cars back to the pits to swap from slick tyres to wets.

By the time all the cars were back in pitlane however, the shower had passed and even those drivers who had elected to change to wets had to change back to slicks when the race was declared dry.

With Clark Proctor (March 73A), Greg Thornton (March 75A) and David Banks (Talon MR1) already out with gearbox issues of one sort or another, Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) sidelined by a broken brake caliper, Brett Willis (Lola T330) and Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5) out after car and/or engine damage from the aborted race in the morning, and Michael Lyons' mother Judy (Lola T332) electing not to start the feature final, the field was down to 11 cars by the time the feature started.

That didn't mean it was without interest though, with Michael Lyons's father Frank (Gurney-Eagle FA74) grabbing second place after a daring move around the outside of Andrew Higgins (Lola T400)through the first turn and special event and MSC series guest Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (Ferrari 156/85 turbo F1) working his way from the back of the grid (after a rush to even get there thanks to a misunderstanding about the earlier race start) to fifth place at the flag.

Lyons Snr held second for the first two laps before being slotted back to third and eventually fourth with Belgiorno-Nettis getting closer but still just over two seconds adrift at the flag.

"I could see him making progress, but because he was only a second a lap quicker than I was the gap was too big for him to close," Lyons Snr said.

One of the reasons was that it had taken the Sydney-based Ferrari driver two full laps to catch and successfully pass the dicing Calven Bonney (Begg 018) and Aaron Burson (McRae GM1).

Class returnee Bonney got the better of Burson at the start but the pair were never more than a couple of car lengths apart with Burson eventually finding a way past on the 10th lap.

"Calven was a bit braver at the start, but I got alongside him one lap and past the next," said Burson.

Once past Ferrari ace Belgiorno-Nettis then set off after Tony Richards (Lola T332), giving Aaron Burson a lesson in just how quick a turbocharged 1.5 litre Ferrari Formula 1 car can go - with a clear track in front.

"It's definitely got some wellie!" he said of the exotic ex-Michele Alboreto car."

Tony Richards, meanwhile was just happy to finish the race - and weekend - with his car in one-piece after spinning in front of the field in the first turn at the start of the aborted second race.

"It was definitely a scary moment," he said. "It's not much fun going into Turn 1 here backwards watching all the other cars coming towards you. I'm not quite sure what happened; I braked a bit later than Andy Higgins who was next to me bit it didn't feel like I was going too quick, but it stepped out and I was very lucky everyone was able to avoid me."

Finally having a - virtually - trouble-free from lights-to-flag was Auckland McRae GM1 driver Alastair Russell who has struggled to complete a race at Hampton Downs for the past two years thanks to various mechanical issues. With a new oil system and overheating issues under control, Russell ended up in eighth place between Aaron Burson and Calven Bonney.

"I'm totally elated, over the moon. We've still got some handling issues but the plan now is to get some seat time and see if we can run even further up the field."

Saturday's race was won by Michael Lyons from Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, Andrew Higgins, Tony Richards and Frank Lyon.

MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series competitors now head south for the final round on the 2013/14 series at the annual Skope Classic meeting at Christchurch's recently renamed Mike Pero Motorsport Park (nee Ruapuna) next weekend.

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, Webdesign and Exide.

2013/14 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series

1. Michael Lyons (Lola T332) 59.585
2. Clark Proctor (March 73A) 1.00.022
3. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 1.00.810
4. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (Ferrari 156/85T F1)1.01.234
5. Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) 1.01.442
6. Tony Richards (Lola T332) 1.01.690
7. Frank Lyons (Gurney-Eagle FA74) 1.01.952
8. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 1.02.505
9. Calven Bonney (Begg 018) 1.03.091
10. Glenn Richards (Lola T400) 1.03.376
11. David Banks (Talon MR1) 1.03.498
12. Peter Burson (McRae GM1) 1.05.035
13. Warwick Mortimer (Surtees TS5) 1.08.657
14. Greg Thornton (March 75A) 1.11.899
15. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 1.12.409
16. Judy Lyons (Lola T332) 1.25.962)
17. Alastair Russell (McRae GM1) no time
18. Brett Willis (Lola T330) no time

Race 1 (Sat) 8 laps
1. Michael Lyons 1.00.024
2. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis +1086
3. Andrew Higgins +7.896
4. Tony Richards +12.052
5. Frank Lyons +12.535
6. Aaron Burson +18.580
7. Calven Bonney +19.142
8. David Banks +20.971
9. Sefton Gibb +24.156
10. Glenn Richards +27.843
11. Alastair Russell +31.053
12. Peter Burson +31.054
13. Warwick Mortimer +38.669
14. Brett Willis + 1 lap
DNF Clark Proctor, Judy Lyons, Steve Ross, Greg Thornton

Race 2 (8 laps Sun)
No result

Race 3 (15 laps Sun)
1. Michael Lyons 15.20.602
2. Steve Ross +11.218
3. Andrew Higgins +22.455
4. Frank Lyons +41.737
5. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis +44.031
6. Tony Richards +46851
7. Aaron Burson +56.652
8. Alastair Russell +58.289
9. Calven Bonney +1.00.289
10. Peter Burson + 1 lap
11. Glenn Richards +1 lap
DNS David Banks, Sefton Gibb, Warwick Mortimer, Judy Lyons


Rnd 1: Nov 8-10 2013 'The Sound' MG Classic Manfeild Feilding
Rnd 2: Jan 17-19 2014 NZFMR Ferrari Festival - 1 Hampton Downs Nth Waikato
Rnd 3: Jan 24-26 2014 NZFMR Ferrari Festival - 2 Hampton Downs Nth Waikato
Rnd 4: Feb 01-02 2014 Skope Classic Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch

2013/14 Formula 5000 Australia Cup Series (invitational rounds)
Rnd 1: Aug 31-Sept 01 2013 Muscle Car Masters meeting Sydney Motorsport Park Sydney
Rnd 2: Sept 13-15 2013 Sandown 500 meeting (V8 Supercars) Sandown Melbourne
Rnd 3: Nov 08-10 2013 Sandown Historics meeting Sandown Melbourne
Rnd 4: March 07-09 2014 Phillip Island Classic meeting Phillip Island Melbourne

Photos Fast Company/Alex Mitchell.

Birthday boy Michael Lyons (Lola T400 #64) leading MSC series guest driver Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (Ferrari 156/85T) during Saturday's race at Hampton Downs.

Michael Lyons (Lola T400 #64) leads guest driver Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (Ferrari 156/85T) and Andrew Higgins (Lola T400) in the aborted second MSC series race at Hampton Downs on Sunday morning as Tony Richards (Lola T332 #23) spins behind the trio.

Lola-driving brothers Glenn (left) and Tony Richards got to race against each other for the first time today.