Proof of just how competitive New Zealand's world-leading MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series now is came at the Historic Sandown meeting in Melbourne. Over the weekend, each race had a different winner.
The first was won by Tony Richards (Lola T332) from Ken Smith (Lola T430) and Ian Clements (Lola T332), the second by Stan Redmond (Lola T332) from Chris Hyde (McRae GM1), and the third by Hyde from Australian driver Andrew Robson (Lola T332) and Smith.
Smith, the evergreen New Zealand racing veteran who raced the cars first time around, qualified quickest and established an early lead in the first race, but was slowed when he lost the use of third gear, allowing Richards - and also for a time third quickest qualifier Stuart Lush (McRae GM1) and former series champion Ian Clements - to get past.
Smith did get back past Clements, then inherited second when Lush's car lost muffler, but any hope the veteran New Zealand speedster had of going one better with a repaired car in the second race were dashed when he and Tony Richards tangled at the first corner.
That left the way open for Stan Redmond to score his first race win of the season, though like Smith, any thoughts he had of repeating the feat in the final were dashed by another driver, in this case last year's MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series winner Chris Hyde.
With no concrete plans to defend his 07/08 title, Hyde - who won it driving a McRae GM1 - had flown over with members of the New Zealand contingent to help work on the cars, but couldn't say no when Stuart Lush offered him his own McRae GM1 to drive in the second and third races.
Though he had to start the second race from the back of the grid, then effectively lost two of the eight laps as the field rolled around behind the Safety Car while the cars of Smith and Richards were moved to a safe place, Hyde worked his way up to second and was closing on race winner Stan Redmond as the chequered flag was being unfurled.
Not surprisingly, Hyde then went on to win the third and final race from the best of the local contingent, Andrew Robson (driving the Lola T332 Ken Smith enjoyed so much success with first time around), with Smith himself third in the repaired T430 then Redmond, Ian Clements and Aaron Burson (Talon MR1/A).
The British-built Lolas are numerically the most popular cars being showcased in the series with the gamut running from early front radiator models like Kerry Anderson's T142 and Poul Christie's T190 to the later side radiator T332s of Richards, Redmond, Clements, Sefton Gibb et al and the rare T430s of Ken Smith and David Abbott. There is always a lot of interest this weekend in the locally-built Elfins run by Australians Tony Floreani, Bill Hemming and Paul Trevethan, and the New Zealand-built Begg FM4 of Terry Rush.
The MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series is organised and run with the support of sponsors MSC, NZ Express Transport, Bonney's Specialised Bulk Transport, Pacifica Transport Group, Toll Holdings, Smith & Davies and Avon Tyres.
Rnd 2: November 29-30 2008 Tasman Revival meeting Eastern Creek Sydney, Aust
Rnd 3: January 17-18 2009 Lady Wigram Trophy meeting Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park NZ
Rnd 4: January 24-25 2009 HRC Tasman Cup Revival meeting Pukekohe Park Raceway Pukekohe, NZ
Rnd 5: Jan 31-Feb 01 2009 HRC Taupo meeting Taupo Motorsport Park Taupo, NZ