New Formula 5000 series to focus on Australia in 2018

The all-new Formula Thunder 5000 series will focus on Australia for its debut season in 2018, shelving plans to run a cross-Tasman series that includes New Zealand.

New Formula 5000 series to focus on Australia in 2018
Tim Macrow tests the Formula Thunder 5000
Tim Macrow tests the Formula Thunder 5000
Dunlop Series driver Todd Hazelwood at the Clipsal 500
Todd Hazelwood
Tim Macrow tests the Formula Thunder 5000
Formula Thunder 5000 testing
Formula Thunder 5000 testing
Formula Thunder 5000 testing

The first weekend of January 2018 has now been earmarked as the starting point for the five-round maiden season, which will take place entirely within Australia.

Plans to expand into New Zealand and replicate the trans-Tasman Southern Hemisphere summer series of the past haven’t been abandoned entirely, rather shelved as the series looks to build up an initial competitor base.

There are also plans to have a lease programme in operation, with four or five cars potentially available for lease rather than outright purchase.

“It’s all about simplicity,” series creator Chris Lambden told Motorsport.com. “We want to make it as easy as possible for competitors to be involved with the category.

The prototype car was back in action earlier this week, ticking over the 1000-kilometre mark as Supercars young gun Todd Hazelwood, Carrera Cup regular Michael Almond, and Radical driver Simon Meade all sampled the car for the first time during a Phillip Island test.

“What it’s all about at this point is having different people in the car,” added Lambden.

“The car has now done over 1000 kilometres of testing without a single problem with the engine or gearbox, which is exactly what we were hoping for. We still have some work to do with the setup and the balance, but the reliability has been outstanding.”

Hazelwood, who is gearing up to be a frontrunner in the second-tier Dunlop Supercars Series this season, was left hugely impressed with the FT5000.

“I had an absolute ball,” he told Motorsport.com.

“For me it was just great to be back in a wings-and-slicks car. I loved it. From a racer’s perspective, it’s loud, it’s fast, and it’s relatively simple, which I think is a great aspect. It’s up to the driver to man-handle the car and get the most out of it. It’s an exciting thing.”

The South Australian even has his eyes on a drive when the series kicks off next January.

“My hand is already up in the air. It’s a great thing, and any driver that gets their bum in the seat and realises not only the potential of the car, but the category as a whole, they’ll want to be a part of it as well.

“The category has got a lot going for it, it will captivate the audience really well. Considering it’s in its early stages, look at the support it has already. It’s a great indication of how successful the category can be.

“I’d love to be a part of it.”

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