The VHT S5000 Australian Drivers' Championship (known originally as the Australian S5000 Championship, or simply S5000) is a current open-wheel road racing series in Australia. The series was created by a merger between two proposed series, Formula Thunder 5000 and Super5000. The series is promoted by the Australian Racing Group.

The inaugural race of the series was originally set to be in Sydney Motorsport Park in May 2019, but was delayed to September due to supply issues from Ligier's Charlotte area factory where the chassis are manufactured.[1]

History

Australian circuit racing, since the end of Tasman Series racing in the 1970s, been heavily focused on touring car racing at the professional level. Open wheeler formula racing series such as Formula Holden and Formula 3 struggled to gain spectator and sponsor interest, and eventually folded.

The idea for a modern interpretation of the historic Formula 5000 class was first raised in 2016, and was initially called the Formula Thunder 5000. The original car used a Swift FN09 chassis that raced in Super Formula between 2009 and 2013.[2]

A year later in 2017, the Super5000 series was later created by former Supercars CEO James Warburton, as part of his plan to sustain growth of motorsport in Australia. The series would originally be used as a support category for the Supercars series, alongside the Super2 and SuperUtes series.[3][4] The creation of this series led to controversy, and the founder of Formula Thunder 5000, Chris Lambden, disapproved of the idea, claiming it would threaten his own plans.[5]

Later that same year, both series announced a merger in a bid to further ensure the return of a formula racing series in Australia.[6] The formation of the S5000 series came as a result, and would incorporate technical elements from both the Formula Thunder 5000 and the Super5000 series.[7]

A preliminary schedule was originally announced in 2018, with Sydney Motorsport Park as the season opener.[8] However, in April 2019, the organisers announced that the series would be delayed four months and that the inaugural season would instead kick off in September 2019 at Sandown Raceway, due to supply issues from Ligier's Charlotte area factory. The organisers also wanted to ensure that the S5000 car would be properly tested.[1][9]

The first event attracted an entry of 13 drivers, including former Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello.[10] The feature race was marred, however, by an accident involving Alex Davison which caused damage to safety barriers and forced organisers to red-flag the race after just 10 of the scheduled 25 laps. The race was won by James Golding, with Barrichello second and John Martin in third.[11] A second event was held at The Bend, with the feature race being won by John Martin.[12]

For 2020, a six round championship was planned, set to start as a support event for the 2020 Australian Grand Prix held at Albert Park, with the championship to be followed by a non-championship race at Mount Panorama.[13] It was also announced in early 2020 that the championship would see the revival of the Australian Drivers' Championship title, last awarded in 2014 Australian Drivers' Championship for Formula 3 cars.[14] This was accompanied by a plan to award trophies named after prominent Australian racing drivers to the winners of each feature race, with the winner of the feature race at Albert Park to be awarded the Alan Jones Cup.[15]

The opening round attracted a larger entry, including inaugural feature race winner Golding, two-time Australian Drivers' Champion Tim Macrow, and international entrants including the return of Barrichello and fellow Formula One veteran Giancarlo Fisichella, Formula 2 driver Jack Aitken and 2019 Bathurst 1000 winner Alexandre Prémat. After practice and qualifying sessions on Thursday 12 March, Golding had pole position.[16] However, on Friday morning the entire Grand Prix meeting was called off as a result of the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, so no race was held.[17] Due to ongoing difficulties surrounding the pandemic, modified calendars were announced a few times over the year, with plans made for a championship running over late 2020 into early 2021. In the end, however, no races were held in 2020 and instead a short four race calendar was announced to be run in early 2021, with a second, longer summer series to run from late 2021 to early 2022.[18][19]

The first championship event, and first race of the 2021 season, finally got underway in January at Symmons Plains, with Thomas Randle winning the feature race.[20]

Car specification

The S5000 car's chassis is based on a FIA-compliant Formula 3 bespoke chassis manufactured by French motorsport company Onroak-Ligier.[21] The car uses a 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated quad-cam Ford Coyote V8 that is modified by InnoV8, and has an output of 560 hp (420 kW; 570 PS) and 460 lb⋅ft (620 N⋅m) of torque.[22] All of the power is driven through a 6-speed gearbox by Holinger.[21] Holinger also supplies the transaxle. The suspension set and the wing package are supplied by Borland Racing Developments, and are then fabricated by Garry Rogers Motorsport, who also perform the assembly of the S5000 car.[23] The tyres are supplied by Hoosier.[24]

The S5000 car has been certified by the FIA under the 2018 safety certification.[25]

The S5000 car made its first public appearance taking part in demonstration runs at the 2018 Newcastle 500 Supercars event with drivers such as Greg Murphy, John Bowe, and Garth Tander going behind the wheel. The race car received a positive reaction from the audience.[26]

Media coverage

The races are to be aired on streaming service Stan Sport, and they will also be live-streamed by website Motorsport.com through their Motorsport.TV platform.[27][28]

Champions

Year Driver Team
2019 Exhibition Series
2020 Cancelled due to Covid-19 Pandemic
2021 Australia Joey Mawson Team BRM
2022 Australia Joey Mawson Team BRM

Teams

There are currently 7 teams in the S5000 Australian Drivers Championship. These are; Gary Rogers Motorsport, Team BRM, 88 Racing, Macrow Racing, Modena Engineering, Willmington Motorsport and Astuti Motorsport.[29][30]

References

  1. ^ a b Leeuwen, Andrew van. "Australia's new S5000 series delayed until September 2019". Autosport.com. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  2. ^ Branagan, Phil. "Plans for Tasman Series with modern Formula 5000 cars outlined". Autosport.com. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  3. ^ "Supercars launches Super5000 series | Canadian Edition". ca.motorsport.com. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  4. ^ "Super5000 Packs V8 Muscle Between Open Wheels Down Under". Carscoops. 2017-06-05. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  5. ^ "FT5000 boss slams Supercars 'copycat' series". Speedcafe. 2017-05-05. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  6. ^ "Formula Thunder 5000, Super5000 projects unite to develop single '5000-style' car". Fox Sports. 2017-07-16. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  7. ^ "Formula Thunder 5000, Super5000 join forces". Speedcafe. 2017-07-17. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  8. ^ "The V8 Sleuth // V8 Sleuth News // S5000 CALENDAR REVEALED FOR 2019 SEASON". v8sleuth.com.au. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  9. ^ "S5000 Championship racing debut delayed". Velocity News. Archived from the original on 2019-04-20. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  10. ^ Howard, Tom (16 August 2019). "Formula 1 race winner lands Sandown S5000 drive". speedcafe. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  11. ^ Howard, Tom (22 September 2019). "Golding wins as Davison crash shortens S5000 feature race". speedcafe. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  12. ^ McAlpine, Heath (17 November 2019). "Martin Wins S5000 Feature". AutoAction. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  13. ^ Herrero, Daniel (29 October 2019). "S5000 organisers reveal 2020 calendar". speedcafe. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  14. ^ Coch, Mat (12 March 2020). "Motorsport Australia reinstates Gold Star with S5000". speedcafe. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  15. ^ McCarthy, Dan (17 December 2020). "McCormack Cup to be awarded in S5000". Auto Action. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  16. ^ Herrero, Daniel (12 March 2020). "Golding takes S5000 pole as Barrichello finds gravel". speedcafe. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  17. ^ Herrero, Daniel (13 March 2020). "AGP supports set to be cancelled". speedcafe. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  18. ^ Herrero, Daniel (31 July 2020). "TCR, S5000 openers postponed further". speedcafe. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  19. ^ Herrero, Daniel (12 November 2020). "S5000 reveals summer series plans with 2021 calendar". speedcafe. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  20. ^ Herrero, Daniel (26 January 2021). "Randle goes lights-to-flag in S5000 feature". speedcafe. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  21. ^ a b "First S5000 chassis arrives in Australia". www.motorsport.com. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  22. ^ "S5000 | The Car". Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  23. ^ "GRM to build new S5000 openwheelers". Inside Sport. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  24. ^ "GRM completes development on S5000 chassis ahead of production green light - S5000". Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  25. ^ "S5000 Series". Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  26. ^ "Fans give thumbs up to S5000 after Newcastle demo". Speedcafe. 2018-11-28. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
  27. ^ "ARG, Stan Sport strike landmark deal". speedcafe.com. Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  28. ^ "Motorsport.TV to carry S5000 live-stream globally". Highway F1. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
  29. ^ "Formula 4 driver Antonio Astuti to contest S5000 at Australian Grand Prix". Highway F1. Retrieved 2021-10-21.
  30. ^ "Teams". S5000. Retrieved 2021-10-21.

External links