S5000, which made the unilateral decision to schedule its season across Summer, is currently in its ‘off-season’, having completed its first, reduced (thanks to Covid) Australian Drivers Championship series.
It always amused me that Australia was, and still primarily is, the only country in the world to spread its motorsport season across Winter – I guess to avoid what can occasionally be some warm-ish months in some parts. But if you’ve spent a number of cold, wet, miserable weekends at Phillip Island or Sandown, or other southern venues, in June/July/August, you’ll understand why we’ve chosen to revert to Summer!
Despite random Covid travel restrictions keeping a couple of potential entrants at home, Season 1 was able to show what the spectacular, V8-powered formula is about, with a terrific title scrap among half a dozen contenders. It effectively came down to a three-way shootout between Joey Mawson, Thomas Randle and Tim Macrow at the final round – won in the end by Joey, who’d returned from a European Porsche involvement, based in Switzerland, in order to compete. Indeed, he only got out of hotel quarantine three days before the opening round, such was the late confirmation of his deal.
Both his and Randle’s entries benefitted from support from former (Formula Holden) racers now in a position to put back into the sport. Same goes for young Cooper Webster and even the more seasoned Tim Macrow (whose car is part-owned by expat Kiwi F5000 racer Frank Harris). We’re calling it our ‘Patron’ scheme – it simply encourages those former competitors who can, to be involved in the modern formula as car owners, providing the tools for the next generation to follow in their footsteps.
It was great to see a Kiwi on the grid from Round 2 onwards in the form of Kaleb Ngatoa. Thanks to the opening of the Aus-NZ travel bubble, he was able to make Round 2 at Phillip Island, but literally a few hours too late to make the Friday Practice – so he actually went straight into Qualifying which, believe me, was a mammoth challenge well accomplished! And without further testing, Kaleb completed the rest of the series with some strong drives. Sounds like he’ll be back later in the year. Lots of potential.
With the travel bubble likely to be settled, it would of course be great to have additional Kiwi representation as Season 2 kicks off, in September. People are surprised to learn that S5000’s strict cost controls makes it possible to race at around half the budget of, for example, the Supercars ‘development series’, Super2.
Supercars teams quite jealously maintain the ‘pathway’ theory that Super2 is the only way to go if you’re trying to make it to Supercars. They would, wouldn’t they – Super2 is of course the outlet for all their old cars … At the same time, it’s worth noting that Formula Holden (along with F3 probably the last serious open-wheel category in Australia), spawned Mark Skaife (3-times Gold Star Champion), and Rick Kelly and Jason Bright, with a championship each … And, oh yeah, Scott Dixon and Will Power each have a Formula Holden Gold Star title in their resume. They all ‘dun pretty ok’ subsequently … hopefully S5000 can churn out champions to match!