Christchurch driver Chris Hyde made a clean-sweep of the three-race Tasman Revival series round at Manfeild Autocourse, Feilding, last weekend.
Hyde, driving a McRae GM1, headed a field of 15 of the 1970s V8-engined open wheelers.
Hyde made his debut in the class on Saturday, winning first time out, and was unchallenged in the first of Sunday’s two races.
Starting from behind the Lola T332 of Sefton Gibb, 65-year-old Ken Smith drove his Lola T430 into second place, but the British car couldn’t match the straightline speed of the McRae, which was designed by Kiwi Graeme McRae.
In the 12-lap final, Smith held the initial edge, with visibly better drive out of the corners. Smith’s Lola led until lap two when it touched the dirt coming on to the front straight and was passed.
Stewart Lush (McRae GM1) was battling to hold his car as his front tyres blistered in the heat.
Smith, recovering from the lap two slip, was on a mission to break the F5000 record set at Manfeild in early 1976.
He came just shy of the 61.8-second lap set by his former arch-rival Graeme Lawrence in a Lola T332. Smith turned in a 62s lap late in the race.
As the cars headed to the chequered flag, Smith was an arms-length from Hyde’s rear wing.
But Hyde’s straightline speed allowed him to hang on and score his third win of the weekend.
“I did everything to shake Kenny off,” Hyde said after the race. “I’d think I’d pulled away from him and he’d be right back there in my mirrors.
“I may be young but I’m knackered after that.”
Hyde said his F5000 debut was variously “frightening, exhilarating and exciting”.
Smith’s weekend tally was two second places and a third on his return to F5000 racing.
“(F5000s are) the greatest cars I’ve driven and I’ve driven almost all of them here in New Zealand. Thanks to David Abbott – he trusted me with his car to race it here – I’ve got a disease now, I can’t stay out of them. Just the enjoyment I had – that’s what I come out for.
“It was so nice to run wheel-to-wheel and know you can trust the guy beside you (he said of his dice with Hyde).”
Finishing third in the Grand Prix-style final race, Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) was chased hard by the Lola T332 of Tony Richards.
Smith had put the T430 on pole on Saturday, and led the opening lap of Race 1.
Smith’s advantage was eaten away by the power advantage of Hyde’s McRae, and late in the second lap a new leader emerged.
Gibb in the Lola T332 was also in the hunt, and it wasn’t until the later in the race when Smith’s car became jammed in gear that Gibb snuck past.
“For the last two laps it jammed in fourth,” said Smith. “It was good, but that silver car (Hyde’s McRae) has more horsepower in the straights; when it came at me it was with a rush.”
The second round of the series is on January 5-6, at the 2008 Lady Wigram Trophy meeting at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway (Ruapuna) in Christchurch.