Ross keeps Kiwis on top in Australia

Photo: Steve Ross

Dunedin driver Steve Ross (McRae GM1) has so far proved the man to beat at the final round of the 2011/12 MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series at Australia's Phillip Island circuit this weekend - despite the speed of local ring-in James Davison (Lola T332).


Davison, 25, who races professionally in the United States, set a blistering pace to snatch pole position in qualifying from MSC series champion-elect Ross on Friday. But it was Ross who won the first two MSC F5000 races on the programme at the annual Phillip Island Classic meeting today, the first from Australian Andrew Robson (Lola T332), Kiwi David Abbott (Lola T430) and Australian Bryan Sala (Matich A50), the second from the Aussie trio of Robson, Sala and a resurgent Davison.


The young third-generation Australian driver, whose cousin Will won the second V8 Supercar race at the Clipsal 500 meeting in Adelaide last weekend, conceded the start of the first race to fellow front row starter Ross but was closing in for a pass at the hairpin on the third lap when a driveshaft failed, leaving his car stranded in the gravel trap.


The car - which his father Jon used to race in Australian in the late 1970s - was repaired in time for the second race, but because he hadn't finished the first the former Formula Atlantic and Firestone Indy Lights series front-runner had to start it from the back row of the grid, meaning Ross went on to win a second race unchallenged.


Behind the leading four - Ross, Robson, Abbott and Sala - in the first race came former MSC F5000 series champion Ian Clements, (Lola T332) with a small gap back to UK-based series regular Greg Thornton (Chevron B24) and Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) with similar gaps back to Brett Willis (Lola T330) and Darcy Russell (Lola T332), and Sefton Gibb and Russell Greer (both Lola T332), and Christchurch series rookie David Arrowsmith the first of the Class A (for earlier model cars) category drivers home in 12th place.


The big question in the second race was how far could Davison make it back up through the field before the chequered flag came out, the answer, fourth place, his progress aided by the race's quickest lap, a 1.30.1503. Not as quick as the 1.29.6362 he set in qualifying, but still just over a second better than Steve Ross' best in the race.


Behind Davison at the flag came David Abbott then a five car battle-pack consisting of Greg Thornton, Ian Clements, Aaron Burson, Sefton Gibb and Brett Willis.


A little further back, American visitors Scott Drnek (Surtees TS8) and Eric Haga (Lola T190) were enjoying their introduction to Australasia's fastest circuit, Drnek driving fellow American Harin de Silva's ex Peter Revson Surtees TS8, 70-year-old Haga - who contested three of the New Zealand-based rounds of the 2011/12 MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series - the very same Lola T190 he ran first time around in the United States in the 1970s.


Today's two races were the first of four for the MSC F5000 series cars at the big Phillip Island Classic meeting with another two, including a feature series final, tomorrow.


1. James Davison (Lola T332) 1:29.6362*
2. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 1:31.3099
3. Andrew Robson (Lola T332) 1:31.9762
4. David Abbott (Lola T430) 1:33.3947
5. Ian Clements (Lola T332) 1:34.7349
6. Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) 1:34.8189
7. Bryan Sala (Matich A50) 1:35.5243
8. Greg Thornton (Chevron B24) 1:35.9145
9. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 1:36.8644
10. Darcy Russell (Lola T330) 1:36.9202
11. Brett Willis (Lola T330) 1:36.9277
12. Sefton Gibb (Lola T332) 1:37.3711
13. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 1:38.4646
14. Chris Hocking (Matich A52) 1:39.2454
15. Dave Arrowsmith (Lotus 70B) 1:39.2682
16. Scott Drnek (Surtees TS8) 1:39.7216
17. Graham Smith (March 73A) 1:40.2400
18. Bill Hemming (Elfin MR8 AC) 1:42.0460
19. Robert Harborow (Elfin MR8) 1:42.5898
20. Philip Lewis (Matich A50) 1:43.4713
21. John Bryant (Lola T140) 1:44.9685
22. Jay Bondini (Lola T332) 1:47.9765
23. Timothy Rush (McLaren M22-3) 1:51.2272

Race 1 (Sat 5 laps)
1. Steve Ross 7:40.812
2. Andrew Robson 7:49.7320
3. David Abbott 7:54.1416
4. Bryan Sala 7:54.3979
5. Ian Clements 7:55.2411
6. Greg Thornton 8:05.1892
7. Aaron Burson 8:05.3072
8. Brett Willis 8:09.8070
9. Darcy Russell 8:10.7555
10. Sefton Gibb 8:15.7387
11. Russell Greer 8:15.7606
12. Dave Arrowsmith 8:18.5075
13. Chris Hocking 8:18.6269
14. Bill Hemming 8:30.9175
15. Scott Drnek 8:30.9728
16. Philip Lewis 8:35.5418
17. Robert Harborow 8:47.2281
18. John Bryant 8:54.4184
19. Jay Bondini 8:58.2834
20. Timothy Rush 9:21.7907
21. Eric Haga (Lola T190) 7:52.5426
DNF Paul Zazryn (Lola T332) Graham Smith (March 73A) James Davison (Lola T332)

Race 2 (6 laps)
1. Steve Ross 9:16.3933
2. Andrew Robson 9:22.7601
3. Bryan Sala 9:24.4205
4. James Davison 9:27.0463
5. David Abbott 9:36.2926
6. Greg Thornton 9:41.7281
7. Ian Clements 9:42.0878
8. Aaron Burson 9:42.4318
9. Sefton Gibb 9:42.7369
10. Brett Willis 9:43.0950
11. Darcy Russell 9:47.3020
12. Russell Greer 9:48.3394
13. Dave Arrowsmith 9:56.7463
14. Bill Hemming 10:12.0688
15. Scott Drnek 10:39.1963
16. Robert Harborow 10:39.9125
17. Philip Lewis 10:40.5954
18. Jay Bondini 10:55.2706
19. Eric Haga 9:41.0418
DNF Chris Hocking, John Bryant, Timothy Rush


Points after Rnd 5 of 6 (Top 10)
1. Steve Ross (McRae GM1) 468 points
2. Aaron Burson (McRae GM1) 380
3. Brett Willis (Lola T330) 322
4. Dave Arrowsmith (Lotus 70) 290
5. Michael Lyons (Lola T400) 261
6. Greg Thornton (Chevron B24) 260
7. Ken Smith (Lola T430) 231
8. Peter Burson (McRae GM1) 223
9. Frank Lyons (Gurney-Eagle FA1) 219
10. Russell Greer (Lola T332) 216

Media: Fast Company Photo: Alex Mitchell 10th March 12
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