High-performance open-wheel racing will return to the Australian motorsport landscape next year with the launch of the new S5000 category.
The series, which is positioning itself as the premier open-wheel class in the Australasian region, will boast a brand-new FIA-approved chassis, a powerful and cost-effective five-liter V8 engine and an all-Australian transmission system.
While some of the category’s original concepts draw inspiration from the Formula 5000 series held through the 1970s, the S5000 class is a completely contemporary and modern category. The car is build around an all-new Onroak-Ligier carbon fiber monocoque, and will be the first Australian race car to incorporate a Halo.
All components will be spec to help control costs, with power being created by a sealed 5.0-liter, 560hp V8 Ford Coyote ‘Aluminator’ engine. Other features include a Holinger six-speed sequential transaxle, and 17-inch rear tires. An emphasis on moderate downforce levels will help ensure that driver skill pays a premium.
The category has received approval from Australian motorsport governing body CAMS, with co-creator and former racer-turned-publisher Chris Lambden confirmed as the inaugural category manager. The first season is scheduled for next year, with the calendar, drivers and teams yet to be announced.
“It’s been an interesting pathway over the past three-and-a-half years to get to this point, but what we’re now going to be able to offer Australian motorsport is actually better than I had ever thought we could achieve,” said Lambden.
“The 2018 FIA-spec Onroak-Ligier tub, amalgamated with the V8 engine and Holinger rear end makes up a totally contemporary S5000 car that is going to blow people away. It will retain the modest downforce and mechanical grip elements that we have aimed for, so it’s going to be fast and safe, and at last, we have a serious, spectacular, high-level open-wheeler category – perhaps Australia’s version of IndyCar…”
“There have been a lot of people expressing interest in getting involved, and with CAMS now ticking off the car and the championship series, it is well and truly on.”
The most recent Australian domestic championship for high-performance contemporary open-wheelers was Formula Holden, which was essentially a lower-cost version of F3000 that used second-hand chassis powered by modified Holden V6 engines. At its height, it was a legitimate step for young open-wheeler aspirants, counting Scott Dixon and Will Power among its past champions, as well as future V8 Supercar stars including Mark Skaife, Jason Bright and Rick Kelly. Aging equipment, dwindling fields and the loss of CAMS’ prestigious ‘Gold Star’ status precipitated a decline that ended with the series’ collapse in 2007.
In its absence, F5000 events continue to attract healthy fields in historic racing, while further down the performance ladder are national-level series for Formula 3 and Formula Ford.