Home-grown S5000 single-seaters are heading back to Albert Park in a fresh sign of confidence in the 2021 Australian Grand Prix.
The final confirmation is still some way in the future, but a provision date in March is one of the key components of a shortened four-race S5000 season next year.
The V8-powered open-wheelers will then pivot into a summer series from 2021 into 2022 in a fundamental change to the category and a new approach to motor racing in Australia.
Negotiations are underway for an AGP appearance by the fast-and-furious S5000s, which were one of the key supporting categories on the aborted AGP back in March. Drivers had already completed practice and qualifying on grand prix Thursday, with youngsters James Golding and Tom Randle locking-out the front row, before the meeting was cancelled.
“Clearly, we’d love to be there,” the S5000 category manager, Chris Lambden, told Race News.
“There are still a few boxes to be ticked. But we’re very hopeful, otherwise we wouldn’t have created a space.”
The 2021 season is intended to open in Tasmania in January, as a supporting class for the return of the carsales TCR Australia series, before Phillip Island in February, the AGP in March, and Sydney Motorsport Park at the end of April. The trip to Tasmania will include demonstration runs at Baskerville Raceway outside Hobart.
Lambden said the quick-fire championship had been structured to allow the pivot into the summer series, which would start in the final quarter of 2021.
“We are going to a summer season. The Victorian winter doesn’t work even for cars that have roofs, and clearly the S5000s don’t have roofs,” said Lambden.
“We will then take a winter ‘off-season’ break and kick off a full six or seven-round 2021/22 championship in September, at Sandown, running through to April again.”
News of the revival plans for S5000, which has been dormant since the AGP despite more than 15 cars available to race, includes confirmation that next year’s champion will be awarded the coveted Gold Star from Motorsport Australia.
Past winners of the Gold Star include Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power, Bathurst winners Mark Skaife and Rick Kelly, as well as famous single-seater drivers Lex Davison, Kevin Bartlett, Alfredo Costanzo and John Bowe as far back as the 1950s.
“It really is exciting to confirm the re-launch of the S5000 Australian Drivers Championship (Gold Star) series, across the upcoming summer,” said Lambden.
Lambden said there is no plan – yet – to grow S5000 into a revival of the classic Tasman Series, which ran across Australia and New Zealand in the 1960s and 1970s.
But he admitted it is a long-term ambition, as the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand has proven the appetite for young European drivers to get some off-season racing in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Firming up the calendar allows our existing, and new, competitors the certainty they need to prepare well for the first Gold Star Championship for several years,” said Lambden.
“The four rounds are at four of the very best race tracks in the country, and S5000 will provide a spectacular contest. It’s just so good to be able to go racing again…”
2021 S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship
|Symmons Plains Raceway||January 24-26|
|Phillip Island February||Date TBA|
|Venue TBA||March TBA|
|Sydney Motorsport Park||April 30-May 2|