Monday, Sep 23 12:19pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Ken Smith keen to see S5000 revive Tasman Series

It’s been nearly 45 years since the heyday of the Tasman Series, but the halcyon era could come back to life thanks to S5000.

The single-seater series made an emphatic debut at Sandown Raceway last weekend, the same venue where many Formula 5000 races were held.

Kiwi motor racing legend Ken Smith was in attendance for the firs S5000 race meeting to support young protege Tom Alexander with AGI Sport. Fellow countryman Taylor Cockerton also competed for MTEC Motorsport.

There were some suggestions Smith could have been a latecomer to the grid, but those hopes were put to bed after one of the cars was crashed in testing.

The S5000 car utilizes a French-designed Onroak-Ligier carbon-fibre chassis. Unlike the regional Formula 3 championships that use the chassis, the S5000 has a quad-cam 5.0-litre V8 Ford Coyote Alumina tacked to the back.

Unfortunately, a modern-day Formula 1 feeder series hasn’t quite taken hold in Australia in the last two decades. The Australian Formula 3 Championship enjoyed a good 10-year run, but that ended in 2014 when it lost its CAMS Gold Star status as the cars became outdated.

The introduction of the Australian Formula 4 Championship didn’t last long, despite efforts from the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport to make it a success. Now S5000 is being tipped to revive the Gold Star.

Speaking at the inaugural race, Smith said he’s happy to see Australia find a single-seater formula that could work for them.

“They’re very good,” Smith said of the Formula 3-based S5000.

“With a couple of races under their belt, they’re going to have those things going so quick and so good.

“They’re a magic car and it suits a lot of drivers, different drivers, so I think Australia has picked the right formula at last.”

After the Formula Thunder 5000 and Super5000 concepts were merged to form S5000, the Australian Racing Group has taken over the promotion of the series.

Chris Lambden – who was behind the Formula Thunder 5000 project – is now the Category Manager for S5000. Initially, he had hoped the series would come to New Zealand for a Trans-Tasman series, and rumour has it those plans are still in the pipeline as early as 2020.

Back in the mid-1960s and ‘70s, the Formula 5000 circus travelled for eight weekends straight across Australia and New Zealand at circuits that largely don’t exist anymore.

After a successful debut at Sandown Raceway, Smith is certainly keen to see the series come to New Zealand to revive the Tasman Series days of old.

“It would be nice to think we could have Tasman Series races over there [in New Zealand] as well,” he said.

“I know we’ve got the Castrol Toyota Racing Series there but we need to make sure these cars come to New Zealand as well and get some Kiwis in them.”