Proctor ups the pace at Hampton Downs

Metalman Motorsport driver Clark Proctor has had his most successful run to date in the MSC F5000 Tasman revival series at round three, which was the first weekend of the Gulf New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing that celebrated New Zealand’s only Formula One world champion, Denny Hulme.

After a lot of hard work from his team since the second round at Christchurch’s Ruapuna raceway, Proctor gave them the ultimate reward when he put the bright yellow March 73A on pole position in a tight affair, edging out veteran Ken Smith by .03 of a second.

The first race saw Proctor make the best start and storm into an early lead with Smith chasing hard. Smith got past on lap three but Proctor kept the powerful March in touch and kept in touch in second place until a clutch problem caused third gear to fail, which in turn let Proctor slip into the clutches of third place Steve Ross, with Ross getting through with only two laps remaining. But Proctor held on for a strong third place.

Race two saw Proctor again get into the lead from the start and this time was doing a strong job of holding off Smith across six of the eight laps as the pair approached lapped traffic. But a backmarker didn’t see the bright yellow March and Proctor was forced to get on the brakes as Smith swept by into the lead. On the final lap, Proctor got past Smith on the penultimate corner, only to again have lapped traffic intervene. After a side-by-side run to the flag, Proctor missed out by 0.05 of a second and had to settle for second.
The third race was almost twice as long at 15 laps and the team lowered the starting tyre pressures to set the car up for a late charge to the flag and also stiffened the front sway bar, something that caused the car to understeer early on which was exaggerated by a safety car on lap three, cooling the tyres and effectively starting from scratch again.But as the race wore on, the car came better with Proctor’s three fastest laps coming in the final three laps, including setting fastest lap on the final lap. So to go with another third place finish, the team have learnt more valuable set-up information for the second weekend of the NZFMR, which runs again at Hampton Downs this weekend.The March was not the only Metalman car in action over the weekend, with Proctor also piloting the mighty V6-turbocharged Escort in the Pre-’85 Open Saloons & GT class across four races. After a race one win, Proctor had to take second place to Dennis Running in the second in third race, but rounded out the weekend with another win.