Roger Williams (Lola T332) is the latest in a long and distinguished line of Lady Wigram Trophy holders after winning an incident-packed Christchurch Casino Lady Wigram trophy feature race at the second round of the 2009/10 MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series races at Christchurch’s Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park on Sunday, January 10th.
Three-time Lady Wigram Trophy winner Ken Smith (Lola T430) from Auckland and 2007/08 MSC series champion, local man Chris Hyde (McRae GM1), were joint favourites to win this year’s 16-lap Lady Wigram Trophy feature race at the 2010 Christchurch Casino Lady Wigram trophy meeting – but both struck problems.
Smith – who joined race two winner Hyde on the front row of the grid for the final – was swamped at the start when he missed a gear change, got caught up in a first lap clash between Lola T332 drivers Sefton Gibb and Tony Richards, and was finally forced out by a broken front right hand balljoint. Hyde meanwhile, was slowed and finally stopped by a battery problem.
After two relatively uneventful sprint races on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning the Lady Wigram Trophy feature was real thrill-a-minute stuff with Hyde getting the initial jump on quickest weekend qualifier and race one winner Steve Ross (McRae GM1) with eventual race winner Williams slotting into third place in front of former series champion Ian Clements (Lola T332) then a gap to Australian driver Aaron Lewis (Matich A50), Tony Richards (Lola T332) and Aaron Burson (McRae GM1).
Richards was soon in the pits for a drive-through penalty for his part in the clash with Sefton Gibb but the real drama came four laps later when the race was red-flagged after a sticking throttle saw Australian driver Ken James (Elfin MR8C) ran off the track and into the tyre wall which skirts the circuit’s high speed sweeper.
Just before the red flag came out Steve Ross had actually inherited the lead from Hyde after a rapidly draining battery started slowing Hyde’s car but Hyde was handed a second chance when the race was stopped.
That chance lasted less than two laps when the race was re-started however with Ross soon back in front from Williams, Clements, Lewis, and Monaco-based British driver Peter Dunn (March 73A) line astern.
Any chance class newcomer Ross had of taking the Lady Wigram Trophy home with him to Dunedin were dashed however when class stalwart Williams closed in and grabbed a lead he would never lose at the hairpin with three laps to go.
“You have one chance at these things, don’t you,” class stalwart Williams said afterwards. “I could have sat back and taken second place…but in a situation like that you’re always going to have a go aren’t you? So I did!”
Before his Lady Wigram Trophy victory MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series regular Williams’ most memorable result in 10 years racing the 70s era stock block V8 powered single-seater Formula 5000 cars was a round win at Sandown in Melbourne.
The Lady Wigram Trophy win has eclipsed that however, Williams rating it as the highlight of his career so far.
“I’m rapt, ” he said. “Really rapt. To come here with such a big field and to come away with the win. Fantastic!”
Joining Williams on the podium after the race were Ross and former series champion Ian Clements, with young Auckland driver Aaron Burson a weekend-best fourth after a strong race in which he crossed the line a half a second ahead of a recovering Tony Richards, Blenheim’s Russell Greer (Lola T332) sixth and local man David Abbott in the sister car to Ken Smith’s seventh.
A little further back just 0.265 of a second was the margin as Feilding young gun Tim Rush succeeded in a desperate last lap, last corner bid to wrest the Class A (for older F5000 cars) from fellow Begg driver Kerry McIntosh.
Rush was first Class A driver home in Saturday’s race but had to concede the class win in the second race to Aucklander Poul Christie (Lola T190). McIntosh looked a likely winner in the Lady Wigram Trophy race too until Rush got the bit between his teeth and won a drag race from the final corner to the finish line.
Consolation for 2009/10 MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series round one winner Chris Hyde was a win in the second of the weekend’s two six lap sprint races on Sunday morning and with it a new track lap record for Formula 5000 cars of 1.19.243.
Hyde joined fastest qualifier and race one winner Steve Ross on the front row of the grid for that race before hounding and eventually passing the former OSCA and Sports Sedan racer at the hairpin on the fourth lap.
Before that Ross had looked a likely race winner but admitted afterwards that his prodigious first and second lap pace had been at the expense of his McRae GM1’s tyres.
As if to confirm the fact Ken Smith – who had been running third – relegated Ross to third the corner after Hyde made his move.
Ross was in no danger of losing third place but at the line he was just over a second adrift of Hyde and seven tenths of a second behind Smith.
Roger Williams also redeemed himself for an early off-track excursion in the first race with a strong fourth place finish in the second after a race-long battle with fellow Lola T332 driver Tony Richards with Sefton Gibbs again leading home former MSC series champion Ian Clements and Aaron Burson again getting the better of closely matched Australian visitor Aaron Lewis.
Further back category stalwart Poul Christie finally got the better of young gun Tim Rush in the battle for Class A ( for earlier model F5000 cars) honours after he, Rush and Kerry McIntosh had run within metres of each other for the whole race.
Ross got his time in the sun on Saturday, claiming pole position with the only sub 1.21.00 lap in the red flag-interrupted qualifying session in the morning then leading the first MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series race of the weekend – a 6-lap sprint from a rolling start – from start to finish.
Defending MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series champion Ken Smith – who joined Ross on the front row of the grid – was rarely more than two or three car lengths behind but never looked like he had the wherewithal to seriously challenge for the lead, eventually crossing the finish line in second place with Chris Hyde third and Tony Richards fourth.
Hyde found himself in fight back mode after an engine problem on Friday then a battery issue in qualifying, but set the fastest race lap – at 1.20.541 a good four seconds a lap quicker than his qualifying time – on his way from eighth place at the start to third at the flag.
With Roger Williams working his way back through the field from his first lap excursion, fourth placed Tony Richards was the first of the Lola T332 drivers to cross the line with Napier’s Sefton Gibb fifth and Ian Clements sixth.
Aaron Lewis was the best of the visiting overseas drivers in eighth place in his Matich A50 with Monaco-based Brit Peter Dunn (March 73A) one place behind in ninth and Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8) the first of the Australian Elfin drivers home in 17th place.
After being comfortably the quickest Class A contestant in qualifying Tim Rush was also the first across the line in the first race though Aucklanders Poul Christie, Kerry McIntosh and Kerry Anderson remained within striking distance throughout the race.
MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series action now heads to the North Island with consecutive third and fourth rounds at the New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing – Bruce McLaren meetings at the new Hampton Downs circuit over the January 23-24 weekend and at Pukekohe the weekend after.
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, Pacifica, Toll Holdings, Smith & Davies, Avon Tyres and Exide.
New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Calendar
2009/10 MSC New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Rnd 2 Christchurch Casino Lady Wigram Trophy meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park Christchurch Sat-Sun Jan 09-10 2010
1. Steve Ross (Dunedin, McRae GM1) 1:20.448
2. Ken Smith (Auckland, Lola T430) 1:21.067
3. Tony Richards (Christchurch, Lola T332) 1:21.700
4. Sefton Gibb (Napier, Lola T332) 1:22.325
5. Ian Clements (Christchurch, Lola T332) 1:22.436
6. Roger Williams (Auckland, Lola T332)1:22.973
7. Aaron Burson (Auckland, McRae GM2 1:24.315
8. Chris Hyde (Christchurch, McRae GM1) 1:24.556
9. Peter Dunn (Monaco, March 73A) 1:24.870
10. David Abbott (Christchurch, Lola T430) 1:25.297
Race 1 (Sat) 6 laps
1. Steve Ross 8.11.70
2. Ken Smith +0.222
3. Chris Hyde +2.377
4. Tony Richards +5.140
5. Sefton Gibb 7.063
6. Ian Clements +7.527
7. Aaron Burson +20.978
8. Aaron Lewis +21.347
9. Peter Dunn +27.216
10. Russell Greer +36.278
Race 2 (Sunday 6 laps)
1 Chris Hyde 8.08.020
2. Ken Smith +0.486
3. Steve Ross +1.268
4. Roger Williams +9.951
5. Tony Richards +10.184
6. Sefton Gibb +13.582
7. Ian Clements +13.806
8. Aaron Burson +15.949
9. Aaron Lewis +16.173
10. Russell Greer +30.383
Race 3 Lady Wigram Trophy (Sunday 16 laps)
1. Roger Williams 19.52.442
2. Steve Ross +0.573
3. Ian Clements 6.446
4. Aaron Burson +18.342
5. Tony Richards +18.874
6. Russell Greer +22.436
7. David Abbott +23.455
8. Phil Mauger +33.136
9. Lindsay O’Donnell +39.715
10. Brett Willis +42.622
11. Tim Rush 53.671
12. Kerry McIntosh +59.936
13. Peter Burson +56.899
14. Bill Hemming +56.950
15. Poul Christie +1.10.346
16. Kerry Anderson +1 lap
17. Paul Trevethan +3 laps
dnf John McKinlay, Aaron Lewis, Chris Hyde, Peter Dunn, Hamish Paterson, Ken James, Ken Smith, Sefton Gibb,
dns. Stan Redmond
New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series Calendar
Rnd 1: November 14-15 2009 MG Classic meeting Manfeild Feilding
Rnd 2: January 08-10 2010 Lady Wigram Trophy meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch
Rnd 3: January 22-24 2010 NZ Festival of Motor Racing – celebrating Bruce McLaren Hampton Downs north Waikato
Rnd 4: January 29-31 2010 NZ Festival of Motor Racing – celebrating Bruce McLaren Pukekohe Park Raceway Pukekohe
Rnd 5: March 19-21 2010 VHRR Phillip Island Classic meeting Phillip Island Australia
Rnd 6: Mar 25-28 2010 FORMULA 1? Australian Grand Prix Albert Park Melbourne Aust
[Source: NZ F5000 Assoc.; Fast Company/Alex Mitchell]