Collins Wins Formula 5000 Opener at Skope Classic

Category young gun Michael Collins (McRae GM1) found himself back on the top step of the podium after winning the first SAS Autoparts MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series race at the big Skope Classic motor racing meeting at Christchurch’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park (Ruapuna) today,
Fastest qualifier Ken Smith (Lola T332) led from the rolling start and again after an early Safety Car period caused by a multi-car collision as the 13-strong field thundered into the first corner. But just when it looked like the 75-year-old category super veteran was going to stroke home for another win he slowed and headed for the pits.
“It just started making a tappet-y sort of noise from the engine,” he said after the race. “It’s just a new one so it was better to stop and give it a check over rather than keep going and risk doing more damage to it.”
With Smith out Andy Higgins (Lola T332) inherited second place and fellow Aucklander Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) third.
Behind Burson it was anyone’s race, with fourth place eventually going to a hard-charging Greg Thornton driving local man David Arrowsmith’s Lotus 70.
UK-based series regular Thornton is a former FIA World Masters F1 class champion and owns a string of period Lotus F1 cars and was right at home in Arrowsmith’s unique Ford-powered Lotus.
“It feels very similar to my Lotus 77, “said Thornton. It’s from an earlier era but the 77 still had a sheetmetal monocoque so there are obviously similarities between the two.”
Next across the line was Auckland driver David Banks enjoying a competitive run in his new Lola T332 followed by Grant Martin (Talon MR1A) and Ian Clements, who ran strongly until the final lap when he slowed, and struggled across the finish line thanks to broken gear lever.
Unfortunately the contact  at the first corner saw damage to Glenn Richards’ Lola T400 and Steve Ross’s McRae GM1 though both Ross and Brett Willis – who ended up in the gravel trap as he tried to avoid other cars pinballing into his -  were able to get a back going and finish the race in 10th and 11th place respectively.
2017/18 SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series

1. Ken Smith (Lola T332) 1:25.287
2. Michael Collins (McRae GM1) 1:26.747  
3. Andy Higgins (Lola T332) 1:26.897
4. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 1:27.718
5. Greg Thornton (Lotus 70) 1:28.402
6. David Banks (Lola T332) 1:29.709
7. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 1:31.424
8. Glenn Richards (Lola T400) 1:36.584
9. Grant Martin (Talon MR1A 1:36.589
10. Tim Rush (McLaren M22) 1:40.804
11. Brett Willis (Lola T330) 1:41.371
12. David Arrowsmith (Lotus 70) 1:42.950
13. Frank Karl (McLaren M10B) 1:50.182
Race 1
1. Michael Collins 8 laps       
2. Andy Higgins +3.847        
3. Aaron Burson +9.063        
4. Greg Thornton +14.420
5. David Banks +19.754                    
6. Grant Martin +22.215        
7. Ian Clements +25.502        
8. Tony Galbraith +32.349    
9. Tim Rush +59.148 
10. Steve Ross +1 lap
11. Brett Willis +2 laps
DNF. Frank Karl        
DNF Ken Smith         
DNF. Glenn Richards

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