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BIG BUCKS BOOST FOR $50K TASMAN SERIES

2021 Australian Racing Group, Round 2, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia Friday 12th March to Sunday 14th March 2021. DKR50412.CR3 World Copyright: Daniel Kalisz Photographer

The biggest prize pool in Australian single-seater racing since the 1970s is the bait for the born-again Tasman Series for S5000 racers.

A total of $50,000 is on the line for contenders in the new two-event contest, which will run at Bathurst and the Gold Coast in November and December.

The winner of the seven-race series could pocket as much as $35,000.

“There hasn’t been that sort of prize money for a good few years. It’s a good number. A good prize pool,” the CEO of the Australian Racing Group, Matt Braid, tells Race.news

“It puts a value to the Tasman Series that is meaningful. It’s a solid amount for the winner and the people on the podium. It’s effectively winner-takes-all.”

The prize package will award $30,000 to the Tasman Series champion, with $10,000 for second and $5000 for third. There is also a $5000 bonus for international drivers, which is likely to go to a New Zealander because of Covid-19 restrictions in 2021.

The big-money Tasman Series is the second major investment by ARG in its start-up categories, following a similar enticement for the first year of the SuperCheap TCR Australia Series in 2019. Apart from TCR prizemoney, ARG also helped to finance cars and drivers into both S5000 and TCR, although the support has been wound back this year with a change of ownership to motorsport stalwarts Garry and Barry Rogers.

Braid says he is happy with the re-jig of the Tasman Series, which was originally focussed on a supporting performance at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix at Albert Park as the lead-in to a three-event program. The cancellation of the local round of the world championship has led to the change from a planned Triple Crown to events at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International on November 26-28 and the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 on December 3-5. 

There will also be a ‘Twilight Tasman Test’ at Sydney Motorsport Park ahead of Bathurst.

Braid says there is growing interest in S5000 and the prize pool for the Tasman Series is the next step in growing the single-seater category. He is already seeing expansion among existing teams.

“Based on the interest we’re seeing, we’re looking at 14 to 15 cars for the Tasman Series,” he says. “That’s not unreasonable. It will be a step up from what’s we’ve been averaging in the championship this year.

“There is interest both locally and overseas. Covid is putting a dampener on overseas entries, but local teams are looking at this as an opportunity to expand and head into the 2022 series.”

He would like to see the Tasman Series attracting Supercars drivers but admits that this year’s Gold Coast appearance will create a clash that is unlikely to be overcome.

“If it was feasible, we’ve love to have it open to any top-line drivers who want to have a crack. It could attract someone who cannot commit to the full championship.

“That was the spirit of the old Tasman Series, when the Formula One stars would race against the locals. Someone like Shane van Gisbergen, who likes to jump into other categories, would be ideal.”

The exact details of the Tasman Series are still being finalised, although the qualifying and race formats will be similar to those already used through this year’s Australian Drivers championship. It will include the points’ structure and qualifying system, which is being planned to promote close racing but also reward the individual race winners.

All seven Tasman Series races will be broadcast live on the Seven Network or Fox Sports in Australia and Sky Sport in New Zealand.

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