Ross defends title at Teretonga

Sat, 23 Feb 2013 | Motorsport

Dunedin F5000 driver Steve Ross successfully defended his 2011-12 Tasman Cup Revival championship title with a consistent performance at last weekend's Evolution Motorsport Classic Speedfest at Teretonga Park, Invercargill.

Ross finished third in the first eight-lap race, won the second and finished sixth in the 15-lap feature, taking 92 points for the round, enough to see him end the season with 649 points - 156 more than Clark Proctor (493) and 225 more than third-placed David Banks (Talon MR1).

After adding his name to the prestigious Lady Wigram Trophy last year, Ross told Drivesouth his McRae GM1 was exciting, but a ''bit of a handful'' to drive.

And lap records at various New Zealand circuits show just how quick the F5000 cars are: at the NZ Festival of Motor Racing, held at Hampton Downs in January 2012, Ross set a circuit lap record of 1min 00:47sec, with a top speed of 268.15kmh.

A great sense of history surrounds the F5000 series: South Africa ran its first national ''series'' for Formula A/5000 cars in 1968, before Great Britain, New Zealand (1969) and Australia (1970) followed suit.

''In the early 1970s in countries where there was no Formula One racing it became the premier class. Everybody drove F5000, even Formula One drivers from Europe during their winter and many of our greats like Denny Hulme, Chris Amon and Graham McCrae,'' Ross said.

Many of the original cars feature in current racing, with up to 40 F5000 cars taking the grid at big events, such as the Denny Hulme Classic, held at Hampton Downs.

Final Tasman Cup F5000 series points. -Steve Ross, Dunedin, McRae GM1, 649 points; Clark Proctor, Auckland, March 73A, 493; David Banks, Auckland, Talon MR1, 424; Ken Smith, Auckland, Lola T430, 377; Greg Thornton, McRae GM1, 355.