An S5000 ‘International Challenge’ series could be on the cards for 2021/22 season which will cater for interested Kiwi drivers.
Earlier this month, series promotor The Australian Racing Group published a condensed four-round S5000 calendar for the upcoming 2021 season. The first round will be at Symmons Plains in January, and the series will conclude at Sydney Motorsport Park in May.
Phillip Island has been confirmed as the second round with a vacant slot in March set to be for the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.
However, category manager Chris Lambden has mooted the idea of running an ‘International challenge’ mini-series at select events on the 2021/22 calendar.
The idea is not entirely fresh with initial plans to have the NZ Formula 5000 field run with the Formula Thunder 5000 (now S5000) grid when the Australian series was first conceived back in 2016.
In an interview with AutoAction, Lambden says there are plans to have Kiwi drivers who have graduated from the Toyota Racing Series or looking to make their next career step to compete in two or three rounds over January and February in 2022.
“I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to put a pretty good calendar together and when we can, we’ll announce the ongoing calendar for the next summer season and there will be some exciting races in that, believe me,” said Lambden.
“TRS is definitely for the 17-18-year-old Formula 3 aspiring guys and it’s a terrific series.
“I think we’ll be looking for a six, seven, eight-round championship that goes from September through to April.
“Now, having said that it’s likely we might be able to group two or three of those together in January or February when there is no racing around the world and we might be able co-ordinate those into some kind of International Challenge for people that have gone beyond TRS.”
Older fans of the sport will likely remember the Tasman Series that ran annually between 1964 and 1975. The last six seasons saw the series run incorporate Formula 5000 cars alongside the existing 2.5-litre and 2.0-litre field.
However, Lambden says his international challenge idea is not a revival of a Tasman Series, but more leaned towards giving race fans some quality motorsport over the summer months.
“It’s something that I wanted to do from the start,” Lambden said.
“Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a Tasman Series or anything like that with loads of race in January or February, it was more a case of me believing that the winter months, especially in the southern states is particularly unsuitable for that sort of racing.
“It was really something that I always really hoped to do, that’s fundamentally all we’re doing. We’re switching the emphasis away from a calendar year to a summer season, which in a normal year would go from September to March or April.”
Last year saw Taylor Cockerton and Tom Alexander as the lone New Zealanders on the grid for the two-round exhibition series at Sandown and The Bend.
Invercargill racer Jordan Michels was set to compete at the Australian Grand Prix earlier in the year. Unfortunately, that event was cancelled at the eleventh hour after just one day’s practice.