British teenager Michael Lyons became one of the youngest ever winners of a Formula 5000 race when he claimed victory in a round of the New Zealand F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series at Taupo Motorsport Park.
Lyons had missed the previous weekend’s races at Christchurch due to exams, but joined his parents Frank and Judy in time for the final events of the season.
Racing his father’s Lola T400 (above), the 18-year-old passed Roger Williams on the last lap to win one race and chased series champion Ken Smith (Lola T430) in a later race before being sidelined by engine problems. “What Michael did was fantastic,” said Smith. “A kid of his age, in a real man’s car, he did a bloody good job.”
Two weeks earlier Smith had won the famous Lady Wigram trophy race for the third time in four decades. The 67-year-old veteran won in heavy rain at Christchurch, 33 years to the day after he first won the trophy in a Lola T332. In 1980, he won again in a Swift DB4 Formula Pacific car.
“I’m no lover of the rain but honestly it was magic out there, just magic,” said Smith. “And being in a Lola, it was just like 1976 all over again.”
The burgeoning New Zealand F5000 movement received a further boost when it was announced that the series will provide support races for the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit on March 28/29. “This is, quite literally, a dream come true,” said category spokesman David Abbott.