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New Zealand Formula Pacific 1980

After Teo Fabi's success in a works March in 1979, a two-car Marlboro-backed works team was sent out for 1980, with Mike Thackwell and Andrea de Cesaris driving. Alan Docking Racing had a heavily-modified Chevron B48 for Huub Rothengatter, Ken Smith had the ex-Fabi March 782/79B, and Steve Millen, Dave McMillan and Australian John Smith all fielded Ralt RT1s.

The opening round of the series at Bay Park was cancelled due to a prize fund dispute, one unfortunate side-effect of which was to give a group of visiting Australian saloon car drivers the opportunity to demonstrate the excitement of Holdens and Chevys. With saloon racing also taking over from Formula Atlantic as the premier category in South Africa, this might mark the point at which single-seater racing in the southern hemisphere went into long-term decline.

Ken Smith and Steve Millen took the opening two races at Pukekohe, then John Smith took over with two dominant victories at Manfeild, but Smith suffered two retirements at Wigram to drop him out of contention. Both Wigram races were won by McMillan, who thus vaulted up to second in the points table behind the consistent Millen. The unpredictabiliy continued into the final pair of races. Millen clashed with Rothengatter at the start of the first race, breaking an arm as his Ralt cartwheeled. De Cesaris won both races after McMillan allowed the Italian to take over the lead, knowing that he must finish to overtake Millen's points total, and was therefore happy to cruise to the finish in second place.

The races

13 Jan 1980 > New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe

13 Jan 1980 > New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe

21 Jan 1980 > Manfeild

21 Jan 1980 > Manfeild

27 Jan 1980 > Wigram

27 Jan 1980 > Wigram

03 Feb 1980 > Pukekohe

03 Feb 1980 > Pukekohe

1980 Aurora AFX International Formula Pacific Championship table

1Dave McMillanRalt RT1 - Ford BDA Hart83 pts2 wins
2Steve MillenRalt RT1 - Ford BDA Masport75 pts1 win
3Andrea de CesarisMarch 792 - Ford BDA72 pts2 wins
4David OxtonChevron B34 - Ford BDA Hart61 pts 
5=Brett RileyMarch 77B - Ford BDA Nicholson51 pts 
5=Huub RothengatterChevron B48 - Ford BDA51 pts 
7John SmithRalt RT1 - Ford BDA Swindon47 pts2 wins
8Larry PerkinsChevron B39 - Ford BDA47 pts 
9Grant CampbellChevron B39 - Ford BDA32 pts 
10Ian FluxEhrlich RP5 - Ford BDA Nicholson32 pts 
11Ken SmithMarch 782 - Ford BDA28 pts1 win
12DesirĂ© WilsonMarch 77B - Ford BDA Nicholson18 pts 
13Mike ThackwellMarch 792 - Ford BDA17 pts 
14Bob DonaldsonChevron B42 - Ford BDA Hart10 pts 
15Rex HartSurtees TS15 - Ford BDA4 pts 
16Hugh OwenRalt RT1 - Ford BDA3 pts 

Previous: the 1979 season

Next: the 1981 season

Peter Greenslade's reports for Autosport were in AS 17 Jan 1980 p8, AS 24 Jan 1980 p6, AS 31 Jan 1980 p7 and 7 Feb 1980 p8-9.