Collins Gives F5000 Fans An Idea Of What They Missed At Manfeild
When - back in 1972 - famed New Zealand racing driver and racing car designer and builder Graham McRae gave Kiwi fans their first taste of his then radical new Leda LT27 (or GM1 as he referred to it) painted in the signature hot-pink colour of his main sponsor at the time, US fuel additive manufacturer STP, it was at the nearby Levin circuit where the Wellington ace gave the car (Leda LT27 001) its first win.
History then goes on to record that McRae drove 001 to three more round wins plus the overall Tasman Series crown in 1972 before shipping the car to the US to tackle the L&M Continental Series – which he also won.
McRae returned with a new - also STP pink - GM1 to again win the Tasman Series in 1973, on-selling 001 to fellow Wellingtonian Dexter Dunlop who ran it – painted black this time – locally before it was seriously damaged in a trailer fire.
Fortunately 001 is one of two McRae cars now owned by Queenstown couple Alistair and Vicky Hey, and after winning the 2019/20 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series in the other Hey car – Leda LT27 004 – Christchurch-based driver Michael Collins will now drive 001 in its original eye-searing ‘hot pink’ STP colours in this season’s SAS Autoparts MSC series.
Older sister Anna, 28, who like her younger brother Michael, 25, has an NZ championship-level background in karts and Formula Ford single-seaters, has been drafted into the Hey/Collins families team line-up to drive 004.
On the first day of competition at the opening round of the 2020/21 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series at the long-running MG Classic motor racing meeting at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in fact, anyone who had been at the Tasman Series round at the (long since abandoned) Levin circuit on January 1 for the 13th annual Levin International meeting could be excused for a strong feeling of Deja Vue.
You see, just like Graham McRae did at the Levin circuit that hot summer’s day 48 years ago Michael Collins repeated in the rebuilt 001 at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon today; qualifying the bright pink STP GM1 on pole then going on to win the first 6-lap race of the weekend unchallenged.
Also impressing both with his single lap pace in the qualifying session in the morning at his race pace in the weekend’s first category race in the early afternoon was local ace Kevin Ingram (Lola T332).
After winning the NZ Formula Ford championship title in 1983 in a car he literally built and maintained himself, Ingram was lost to driving for the next 25-30 years and it was only when he had sold a local (Feilding) business and ‘retired’ that he decided that ‘the itch needed scratching again.’
Since buying his Lola T332 from former series title holder Ian Clements three seasons ago Ingram reckons he has been working on two fronts ;
- Learning what a powerful wings and slicks car likes, in terms of set up and driver input, and
- Trying to teach himself to step up so that he can play his part in the equation.
His performance today, qualifying in second place and finishing second in the race just 2.63 seconds behind Michael Collins suggests that he has made some real progress over the offseason on both fronts.
Six laps of the distinctive 3.033km Manfeild circuit is considered a sprint race – yet it is it is amazing how much action you can fit into those 6 laps when you’re talking about a full field of classic stock-block V8-powered F5000 single seaters.
After qualifying third quickest, for instance, the man behind series sponsor SAS Autoparts, David Banks (Talon MR1/A), was looking like a serious podium prospect for the first 4 laps anyway – before he broke a half (drive) shaft and was forced to pit and pull out of the race.
Son Codie Banks (Lola T332) – who qualified fifth quickest – and fellow Aucklander Glenn Richards (Lola T400) who did well to qualify fourth fastest - also had issues during the race, Banks Jnr with his car’s clutch, Richards with the ignition of his, both slowing and allowing Anna Collins (who set the seventh quickest lap time in qualifying) to work her way up to fourth place then third for what amounted to a dream debut for the second member of the Collins family to now be competing in the series.
Fourth was Russell Greer in the ex Graeme Lawrence Lola T332, a car which for many years held the ultimate lap record - a low 1.02 – at Manfeild.
In fifth place was Aucklander Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) having put in an absolute swash-buckler of a drive from the back row of the grid thanks to missing the morning qualifying session.
Category and series stalwart Tony Roberts (high-wing McLaren M10A) was back to his best in the now four-strong Class A category for older cars, finishing sixth and beating arch-rival Frank Karl (McLaren M10B) to the finish line.
Eighth was a recovering Glenn Richards in his ex-Eppie Weitz Lola T400, ninth local ace Tim Rush in his rare McLaren M22, and tenth the other category newcomer making his race debut, Toby Annabell in his recently acquired McLaren M10B.
There are two more races for the SAS Autoparts MSC F5000s on the programme at the MG Classic meeting tomorrow. Unfortunately neither David Banks nor Tony Galbraith will be on the grid.
Banks’ Talon was too badly damaged when the half shaft broke in todays’ race, while Tony Galbraith’s Lola T332, only freshly re-built after a major crash at the Skope Classic meeting last year, suffered ‘meeting-over’ engine damage in qualifying this morning.
The SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is organised and run with the support of sponsors SAS Autoparts, MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney's Specialised Bulk Transport, Mobil Lubricants, Pacifica, Avon Tyres, Webdesign and Supercharge Batteries.
2020/21 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Rnd 1 MG Classic meeting Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon Sat-Sun Nov 14-15 2020
1. Michael Collins (Leda GM1) 1m02.90
2. Kevin Ingram (Lola T332) 1m04.22
3. David Banks (Talon MR1/A) 1m05.11
4. Glenn Richards (Lola T400) 1m06.55
5. Codie Banks (Lola T332) 1m06.68
6. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 1m07.90
7. Anna Collins (Leda LT27) 1m07.97
8. Tony Roberts (McLaren M10A) 1m10.45
9. Tony Galbraith (Lola T332) 1m10.64
10. Frank Karl (McLaren M10B) 1m10.75
11. Toby Annabell (McLaren M10B) 1m13.82
12. Tim Rush McLaren M22 1m33.44 +30.54s
13. Shayne Windelburn Lola T400 (no time)
Race 1 (Sat pm 6 laps)
1. Michael Collins (Leda LT27/GM1) 6m29.55
2. Kevin Ingram (Lola T332) +2.63s
3. Anna Collins (Leda LT27) +24.43s
4. Russell Greer (Lola T332) +26.13s
5. Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400) +30.58s
6. Tony Roberts (McLaren M10A) +36.22s
7. Frank Karl (McLaren M10B) +37.01s
8. Glenn Richards (Lola T400) +40.50s
9. Tim Rush (McLaren M22) +44.68s
10. Toby Annabell (McLaren M10B) +59.47s
11. Codie Banks (Lola T332) +2 laps
DNF. David Banks (Talon MR1/A (half shaft broke) +2 laps
DNS Tony Galbraith (Lola T332) engine
Rnd 1: 13-15 Nov 2020 - MG Classic, Circuit Chris Amon Manfeild Feilding NZ.
Rnd 2: 22-24 Jan 2021 - Taupo Historic Grand Prix featuring Ford, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park Taupo NZ.
Rnd 3: 05-07 Feb 2021 - Skope Classic - Mike Pero Motorsport Park Ruapuna Christchurch NZ.
Rnd 4: 20-21 Mar 2021- HRC Legends of Speed Hampton Downs Waikato NZ