Rain Spoils F5000 Party At Taupō International Motorsport Park
Today’s eight-lap race for the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival series sat under a rain cloud, as the opening round of the 2024 season began at the Taupō International Motorsport Park.
Just as the grid of 10 cars took to the circuit for the mid-afternoon race the humid weather turned, and misty conditions became rainfall. On slick tyres in slick conditions some revelled while others struggled and for race winner Steven Ross it was the latter.
“How much fun, not much fun I can tell you that,” laughed Dunedin’s Ross, bringing the McRae GM-1 home first.
“It was very difficult being on slicks and having the best part of 600hp at the wheels.”
Second was the Lola T332 of Feilding’s Kevin Ingram. Third – and originally the first car to the first turn, was the Lola T332 of Blenheim’s Russell Greer.
“I was going like a rocket – trying to keep ahead of him,” described Greer of being out front and ahead of Ross.
“I put one wheel on the paint going round that big sweeping corner and it just took off. I got onto the grass and did two 360 spins. Anyway, came to a stop, the motor was still running so thought I might as well chase these guys and one by one I started picking them off – it was quite an exciting journey.”
While there were minor off-track excursions only the Lola T400 of Auckland’s Shayne Windelburn missed the chequered flag – due to be unable to restart his car after slipping from the track.
The field were earlier stymied by the weather during the morning’s qualifying. Only the McRae of Ross and the Lola of Greer took to the track as they were the only ones with wet-weather tyres. Current tyre stocks are depleted, and the fine summer weather was expected to allow a time buffer for a new supply to arrive.
The live televised race was helped by event organisers – maintaining the dry race status so it could be run by all those competing.
The group originally expected to start with 14 cars. Less a couple who were unable to make the weekend, the grid shrunk by another two during Friday’s practice – one being the McLaren M10A of Tony Roberts, who suffered with engine failure.
The only other Group A car running this weekend, the McLaren M10B of Graeme Annabell, finished in ninth.
Sunday’s weather is expected to be an improvement on Saturday with an eight-lap handicap start race in the morning and the Historic GP title winning 10-lap race being held from 3:30pm in the afternoon. The trophy will be awarded by past F5000 champion competitors Graeme Lawrence and Kenny Smith.
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.