McRaes Set The Msc F5000 Series Pace At Skope Classic
* 2010/11 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series
Rnd 3 Preview
Skope Classic meeting
Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park
DAY 1 REPORT
McRaes Set The Msc F5000 Series Pace At Skope Classic
The McRae GM1s of Steve Ross and Jay Esterer proved to be the cars to beat in the MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series class on the first day of competition at the annual Skope Classic meeting at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park today.
Dunedin driver Ross bounced back from a dnf in the final MSC race at the third round of the series at Hampton Downs last weekend to claim pole from Michael Lyons (Lola T400) and Esterer in the morning qualifying session and Esterer won this weekend's first MSC series race after an impressive come-from-behind drive.
Having won all three races at the Hampton Downs meeting Esterer had every right to be confident heading into this weekend's meeting. But when poleman Ross was swamped at the start all bets were off.
Under race rules it is the responsibility of the pole sitter to dictate the pace so Ross, understandably, was not very happy about what happened.
"It's my job to control the start until the start/finish line but everyone seemed to go round me," he said.
Esterer confirmed as much, explaining that having been caught - and penalised - in similar circumstances two years ago he held back until the field sorted itself out.
Chief beneficiary of the confusion was top local driver Tony Richards (Lola T332) who rocketed away from the outside of the second row of the grid to grab a lead he held until the penultimate lap when Esterer - who had smashed the lap record as he carved his way back up through the field - finally made it to the front.
While Esterer was on his charge Richards and class young gun Michael Lyons sprinted away from Mark Dwyer (Lola T400), Hampton Downs pole man Peter Dunn (March 73A) and Ian Clements (Lola T332) with series points leader Ken Smith (Lola T430), Steve Ross and David Abbott (Lola T430) line astern. Like Esterer, Smith lost considerably ground at the start and spent the rest of the race in catch up mode.
"I was behind Jay, " explained Smith, " and I swear I almost ran up the back of him. After that it was just a matter of trying to get back past the cars in front. We were all running pretty much the same pace so it wasn't just a case of picking them off one by one, sometimes I'd catch a car then have to follow it through the next few corners."
After running comfortably in third then fourth place (once he was passed by Esterer) Mark Dwyer was forced to stop on the fifth lap with a loose nose cone, while soon after compatriot Greg Thornton (Chevron B34) brought out the double waved yellow flags after slowing and pulling off the circuit adjacent the start/finish line when something in his car's driveline broke. The flags could not have come out at a better time for Esterer, with Richards and Lyons slowing just enough to allow him to hook into their draft and slingshot past when the track went green again.
While all this was going on up front the battle for places in the mid-field was just as intense with Peter Dunn eventually crossing the finish line fifth from Ian Clements, Aaron Burson (McRae GM1), David Abbott (Lola T430), Frank Lyons (Gurney-Eagle FA74), the giant-killing Michael Whatley (Surtees TS8) in the first of the older Class A cars, and Reg Cook (Lola T400).
Blenheim driver Russell Greer (Lola T332) was also in the mix until, like Dwyer, he was forced to stop with loose bodywork.
With two more races tomorrow, another eight lap sprint in the morning and the Mobil 1 12 lap feature in the afternoon it is still anyone's round - though the fact that Jay Esterer's car arrived back at the end of a tow rope does not bode well for the quick Canadian.
"I felt a vibration in the motor as I crossed the start/finish line so I switched it off," he said.
And does he have a replacement if the damage is terminal?
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.
2010/11 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series
Rnd 3 Preview Skope Classic meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway
@ Ruapuna Park Sat-Sun Feb 05-06
1. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 1.18.781
2. Michael Lyons (Lola T400) 1.18.981
3. Jay Esterer (McRae GM1) 1.18.989
4. Tony Richards (Lola T332) 1.19.113
5. Ken Smith (Lola T430) 1.19.294
6. Peter Dunn (March 73A) 1.22.045
7. Mark Dwyer (Lola T400) 1.22.142
8. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 1.22.313
9. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 1.22.794
10. David Abbott (Lola T430) 1.22.800
11. Frank Lyons (Gurney-Eagle FA74) 1.23.164
12. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 1.23.477
13. Michael Whatley (Surtees TS8) 1.23.624
14. Reg Cook (Lola T400) 1.23.716
15. Stuart Lush (McRae GM1) 1.23.795
16. Greg Thornton (Chevron B34)
17. Phil Mauger (McLaren M23) 1.25.800
18. Peter Burson (McRae GM1) 1.26.682
19. Stan Redmond (Lola T332) 1.27.829
20. Andy Higgins (Lola T400) 1.31.196
Race 1 (8 laps)
1. Jay Esterer 10.46.529
2. Tony Richards +0.711
3. Michael Lyons +1.959
4. Ken Smith +10.786
5. Steve Ross +14.299
6. Peter Dunn +25.959
7. Ian Clements +28.632
8. Aaron Burson +35.050
9. David Abbott +35.511
10. Frank Lyons +40.556
11. Michael Whatley +50.484
12. Reg Cook +51.457
13. Stan Redmond +51.836
14. Phil Mauger +1.06.001
15. Peter Burson +1.12.347
16. Kerry McIntosh +1 lap
17. Andy Higgins +1 lap
dnf Russell Greer, Greg Thornton, Mark Dwyer, Stuart Lush.
Fastest lap (and new lap record) Jay Esterer 1.18.164
Rnd 1: Oct 30/31 2010 Christchurch Casino Wigram revival meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch
Rnd 2: Jan 21-23 2011 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - Chris Amon meeting x 1 Hampton Downs Auckland
Rnd 3: Jan 28-30 2011 NZ Festival of Motor Racing - Chris Amon meeting x 2 Hampton Downs Auckland
Rnd 4: Feb 05/06 2011 Skope Classic meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch
Rnd 5: Feb 19-20 2011 Evolution Motorsport Classic Speedfest meeting, Teretonga Park Invercargill
Rnd 6 (Final) March 25-27 2011 Qantas Australian Grand Prix March Albert Park Melbourne, Australia