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Tuesday, Sep 10 01:00pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Tom Alexander secures S5000 drive for Sandown

Tom Alexander is set to join a star-studded line-up in Round 1 of the inaugural S5000 single seater series at Sandown Raceway.

 

The former Toyota 86 Championship title winner and current ECB SuperUtes Series competitor will join AGI Sport for the first event in the two-round series, which takes place over 20-22 September.

 

While Alexander hasn’t got a big single seater background, he has spent several years in and out of the Formula 5000 scene alongside long-time backer Ken Smith.

 

Alexander has had plenty of testing miles in older Formula 3 and historic Formula Atlantic race cars as well as the more modern FT-50, which until this year was used in the Toyota Racing Series.

 

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The series is a modern take on Formula 5000. The Garry Rogers Motorsport-built S5000 has developed into a V8-powered single seater that utilizes a FIA-supported Formula 3 carbon monocoque, creating a similar but much safer Formula 5000-style race car.

 

Alexander tested the S5000 at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2018 and with the series set to get underway next weekend he’ll be on the grid. Understandably, he’s looking forward to getting back out in the car for a competitive appearance.

 

“When I drove the car in Sydney it felt really good,” Alexander told velocitynews.co.nz.

 

“It felt very similar and still had the old essence of a Formula 5000 race car, which I felt quite comfortable with. That was quite early in the development process and I’m told the car has got a lot better since then.

 

“Its going to be an interesting challenge. We’ll take it step by step and just enjoy it. It’s a cool event to be involved in with the launch of a high power wings and slicks race car that hasn’t really been seen in this part of the world since the old Formula 5000 days.”

 

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Alexander heads to Australia with mentor Ken Smith who helped put the deal together. An icon of the historic and modern Formula 5000 era, Smith believes Alexander has what it takes to be competitive in his debut.

 

“I’ve been looking after Tom since he was 16 years old,” Smith said.

 

“I’ve seen him drive Formula Fords, Toyota 86, SuperTourers, older F5000s and it doesn’t matter what he’s in, he’s very quick at what he does. In the last two years, he has been driving a lot of different stuff, but whatever he is in, he is professional and very fast. I rate him highly.

 

“S5000 is really the perfect place for Tom to be right now. Regardless of whether you want to be a saloon car driver or you want to race open wheelers overseas, there are so many things that S5000 is going to be able to prepare you for – big horsepower, low downforce, race craft – the whole lot.

 

“The old Formula 5000 cars were fabulous, but they are horribly dangerous. This is a modern car and it is going to teach kids to drive properly. I tested the original one at Pukekohe, and that was great to drive, and this one is even better with a lot of power and that mindfulness that you are in a safe car.”

 

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The series has already confirmed several high-profile drivers including Formula 1 race winner Rubens Barrichello and Indianapolis 500 starter Matthew Brabham. Alexander will also have some fierce competition in his own stable with ex-A1GP driver John Martin already confirmed at AGI Sport.

 

“Racing alongside Rubens is going to be pretty cool, I grew up watching him winning at Ferrari alongside Michael Schumacher.

 

“I can’t really go in with too high an expectation. There’ll be a lot of really experienced guys in there. Matthew Brabham has done IndyCar over the last few years and Will Brown is obviously experienced in Super2.

 

“All we can do is our best. Hopefully we’ll come out the other side happy with the experience.”

 

Alexander said he’s keen to try and get into the series full-time in 2020, but that ambition is ultimately dependent on budget. 

 

Photos: Daniel Kalisz

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