Auckland driver Clark Proctor’s winning run in this season’s MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series has continued on the first day of competition at the Canterbury Car Club’s annual Skope Classic motor racing meeting in Christchurch.
Last Sunday the former Speedway, NZV8s and Targa front-runner who drives a 1973 model March 73A claimed a popular debut category win in the 15-lap feature final at the second NZ Festival of Motor Racing – celebrating Denny Hulme meeting at Hampton Downs.
Today he made it win number two, pipping defending series champion Steve Ross (McRae GM1) for pole position in the morning qualifying session before setting the fastest race lap on his way to a lights-to-flag win in the eight lap race.
In hot dry conditions Proctor proved the class of the 20-strong field, establishing an early buffer over a determined Ross, the pair quickly pulling away from third quickest qualifier Michael Whatley in the first of the earlier Class A cars (a Surtees TS8), Whatley’s fellow Brit Greg Thornton (McRae GM1) and a trans-Tasman battle pack led by category returnee Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) from Napier and Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) and Bryan Sala (Matich A50) from Melbourne.
Ross was resolute in his pursuit of Proctor, but despite closing the gap to less than a car length at the hairpin at one stage, couldn’t find a way past.
“Yes,” he dead-panned after the race, “we had a few problems….the main one being the yellow car in front of us!”
For his part Proctor said his second win in as many races was as much a tribute to the tireless work his crew and family have put in since he joined the MSC series. That and the fact that a gamble he took in the red flag-interrupted qualifying session in the morning paid off.
“It (the win) is definitely a reward for the whole team. I was a bit lucky getting pole given the circumstances (Proctor only managed two full pace laps before the session was red flagged because of oil on the track) but I took a gamble that no one else would be able to better the time I set given the conditions.”
He was right too, as he was about how Ross would respond in the race.
“I knew Steve was going to be strong under brakes into Turn 1 because he is always really good there but fortunately for me he wasn’t able to get close enough to take advantage and in the end it was a pretty easy win.”
As Proctor and Ross eased away Whatley circulated quickly and cleanly in third with Thornton fourth but not really closing the gap and Sefton Gibb – making an impressive return to the series after 18 months out of his Lola T332 – fifth, Paul Zazryn and Bryan Sala vigorously disputing sixth and category young gun Alan Dunkley (Lola T140) seventh.
After fixing a gearbox problem which saw him run his other car, a Lola T300, at the second NZ Festival meeting at Hampton Downs last weekend, Whatley was back to his crowd-pleasing best in the older Surtees, explaining; “that was the best place (third) I’ve ever qualified in this series so I was determined not to give it up. It wasn’t easy holding out (Greg Thornton) because his car has much better aero than mine so I was giving it everything I had, 100 % in some corners and 110% in others.”
Sefton Gibb was having a similar run, attributing his strong pace to ‘some clever little things we’ve done to the car over the winter,’ and the fact that though it took him a while in testing to get rid of the cobwebs, come race day ‘it all comes back to you pretty quickly.”
Behind Alan Dunkley, Blenheim man Russell Greer (Lola T332) caught and passed Lola T430 driver David Abbott with Abbott leading a three car freight train consisting of Lola T332 drivers Peter Sundberg and Stan Redmond and last season’s series runenr-up Aaron Burson driving his Talon MR1-A.
Behind him his father Peter Burson (McRae GM1) eventually got the better of visiting Australian driver Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8) to close the finish line in 15th place with Rod O’Carroll, who had been able to repair damage to his Lola T140 sustained at Hampton Downs with the help of Christchurch-based F5000 specialists Motorsport Solutions Ltd, 16th and compatriot John Bryant in a similar Lola T140 18th.
Auckland driver David Banks (Talon MR1) was running strongly early on, only to be forced to pit with a flat tyre on the first lap and category original Eric Haga (Lola T190 ran low on fuel after the field were given an extra warm-up lap before the start!
Today’s race was the first of three for the MSC F5000s on the programme at this year’s Skope Classic meeting with two more tomorrow, another eight-lap sprint in the morning and a 15-lap feature final in the afternoon.
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, Avon Tyres and Exide. Invercargill’s Teretonga Park hosts the final round at the Classic Speedfest meeting in a fortnight’s time.
2012/13 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series
1. Clark Proctor (March 73A-1) 01:20.130
2. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 01:20.261
3. Mike Whatley (Surtees TS8) 01:22.393
4. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 01:22.401
5. Gregory Thornton (McRae GM1) 01:22.807
6. Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) 01:22.968
7. Bryan Sala (Matich A50) 01:23.730
8. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 01:24.253
9. David Abbott (Lola T430) 01:24.571
10. Peter Sundberg (Lola T332) 01:24.664
11. Peter Dunn (March 73A) 01:24.933
12. Alan Dunkley (Lola T140) 01:25.282
13. Aaron Burson (Talon MR1-A) 01:25.562
14. David Banks (Talon MR1) 01:26.120
15. Peter Burson (McRae GM1) 01:27.026
16. David Arrowsmith (Lotus 70) 01:27.154
17. Stan Redmond (Lola T332) 01:29.013
18. Rod Carroll (Lola T140) 01:32.855
19. Eric Haga (Lola T190)01:33.658
20. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8) 01:35.060
21. John Bryant (Lola T140) 01:36.610
23. Aaron Burson (Talon MR1A) no time
Race 1 (8 laps Sat)
1. Clark Proctor 10:43.984
2. Steve Ross +00:00.756
3. Mike Whatley +00:23.678
4. Gregory Thornton +00:25.660
5. Sefton Gibb +00:30.139
6. Paul Zazryn +00:32.008
7 17 Bryan Sala +00:32.837
8. Alan Dunkley +00:37.666
9. Russell Greer +00:38.277
10. David Abbott +00:41.814
11. Peter Sundberg +00:42.620
12. Stan Redmond +00:43.072
13. Aaron Burson +00:44.330
14. Aaron Lewis +00:45.882
15. Peter Burson +01:21.517
16. Bill Hemming +01:26.825
17. Rod Carroll +01:27.339
18. John Bryant +1 Lap
DNF. Eric Haga, David Banks
Fastest lap: Clark Proctor 01:19.813