Proctor takes breakthrough F5000 win at Hampton Downs

Metalman Motorsport driver Clark Proctor has taken his maiden Formula 5000 race win in the feature race of the second weekend of the New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing at Hampton Downs over the weekend.

The team went into the weekend with the aim of improving the car set-up, a big gamble in the competitive field but a far more accurate way to assess progress. With that in mind, a F1-style front wing that originally came with the car was fitted onto the Metalman March 73A in an effort to find more rear grip.

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The wing had the desired effect to the point but bought up another problem where the large amount of front downforce was lifting the back of the car off the ground, making the car almost impossible to drive while delivering all of its 550+ horsepower and the result was a qualifying spot of fifth.

The team made some changes to the car to try and hold the back of the car on the ground for the opening race of the weekend and although the changes made the car better, it was still not as good as the previous weekend and Proctor finished a lonely fourth.

Without the option of bolting on the rear wing that went with the new front wing, the team decided to abandon the new set-up and revert to the settings that had bought Proctor pole position the previous weekend. The changes worked for race two, although a spin into the gravel trap meant that Proctor had to settle for 12th place, but set a fast enough lap time to start in third place for the 15 lap feature race.

Off the start, Proctor was hard up the back of pole-sitter Steve Ross and with a plan under his hat, Proctor hit the lead exiting turn one. I knew my car could turn in nice and tight at turn one on cold tyres and I knew Steve would diamond the corner as he always does and that that would probably catch Kenny out and that’s exactly what happened,” Proctor said.

The rare March then exited turn one in the lead and began to make a slight buffer before becoming engaged in a battle with F5000 veteran, Ken Smith. Last weekend, Proctor had battled with Smith for race wins, only to have lapped traffic work against him but this week the roles were reversed and when Smith was forced onto the grass by a slower car, Proctor was left with a comfortable run to the flag for what was a popular and well deserved victory.

Proctor and his rivals now head to Ruapuna in Christchurch for the penultimate round of the MSC F5000 Tasman Revival Series this weekend.

Photo Credit: Fast Company/Alex Mitchell