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F5000 season opening race starts in style at Manfeild

It was a fighting finish at today’s opening race of the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival series, with the Talon MR1A of Grant Martin taking the chequered flag 0.6sec ahead of the Lola T332 of Kevin Ingram.

The afternoon six-lap race opens the 2023-2024 season, and the pair showed it was all about the competition as they headed off the rest of the 10-car field in style at the MG Classic meeting being held at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon (Feilding).

Setting fastest time in the morning qualifying, Martin knew his mirrors were going to be full of Ingram’s Lola – the pair setting times split by only 0.05 seconds.

While Martin was first away at the rolling start of the afternoon race, it would only take a small mistake that would allow Ingram to seize the advantage. The pair were clinical in their racing and in doing so made it a lights-to-flag result for each.

Securing the final podium position was another Talon MR1 – the ex-Jon Woodner car driven by David Banks. But it wasn’t by much as Banks’s son Codie finished fourth by 0.78sec in the ex-Kevin Bartlett/Johnnie Walker Lola T332.

In fifth was Shayne Windelburn’s Lola T400 – having started from the back of the grid after missing qualifying.

A ‘lovely day’ weather wise also meant the warmer track conditions dampened the lap times compared to qualifying.

While 12 cars entered the weekend only 10 made it to the first race. A late deal put Angus Fogg in the Stu Lush Lola T332. Lap times during Friday’s practice indicated the lap record could be re-written. However, that was the end of idea as investigation on why the car started to lose it edge went from a suspected head gasket to piston damage – putting Fogg out of contention for the weekend.

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Also during Friday’s practice, the Lola T400 of Glenn Richards dropped an engine valve – putting an end to another car.

As the drivers shook away the cobwebs of the off-season, Friday also saw Bruce Kett’s Lola T332 have a moment that bent the front-right nose cone. Luckily Shayne Windelburn was able to bring a spare, enabling Kett to front for Saturday’s qualifying.

Sunday morning’s six-lap race is a timed handicap rolling start. First away will be the McLaren M10 B of Tony Annabell, followed by the McLaren M10 A of Tony Roberts, all the way through to the Lola T332 of Kevin Ingram – who will have the position advantage over Martin’s Talon.

The afternoon eight-lap race will start based on finishing position of the morning race.

Continuing to support the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series in its 21st season are SAS Autoparts, MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney's Specialised Bulk Transport, Mobil Lubricants, Avon Tyres, Webdesign, Exide Batteries and Pacifica Shipping – who sea freight the cars for the New Zealand events.

You can follow the series on Facebook at F5000 New Zealand or via the official website www.f5000.co.nz.

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