Plans to add a V8-powered open-wheel category to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship support card in 2018 have been unveiled with images and detail appearing earlier tonight on The Daily Telegraph.
Dubbed Super5000, the class is a modern take on the popular Formula 5000s of the 1970s.
Designed in South Australia by Oscar Fiorinotto’s Supashock Racing Engineering, the carbon fibre monocoque chassis is fitted with a Supercars 5.0 litre V8 engine and Albins transaxle gearbox.
The first car has already undergone several test runs at Phillip Island, Mallala and Adelaide International Raceway with former Supercars champion Garth Tander, Lee Holdsworth and Alex Davison at the wheel.
While Supercars owns the rights to the category, the project is being funded by PAYCE Consolidated and its long-time motorsport sponsorship partner Wilson Security.
“Both PAYCE and Wilson are incredibly excited about this project for many reasons, one of them being the opportunity to introduce an exciting open wheel category in Australia the fans will embrace,” said John McMellan, Wilson Group CEO - Australasia.
“It is also a way to introduce an incredibly powerful racing car in an affordable package which can be a pathway for younger driveways into the open wheel categories of Europe or the US.
“This is an amazing formula which we believe will attract a strong competitor base with a possible start to the Super5000 Series from next year.”
The consortium had initially agreed to provide support for the Super5000 concept developed by Supercars in 2015 as it looked to consolidate support categories.
“We appreciated Supercars developing the Super5000 concept and vision but were not in a position to progress it,” said McMellan.
“The opportunity to independently progress the project was there and it made sense for us to support it with Supercars retaining the rights for the category.
“Now we hope with a positive market response we can present an undeniable case for the Super5000 to become an official support category in 2018.”
Supercars is currently attempting to grow its support stocks as part of an overall growth plan for the business.
CEO James Warburton stressed that the market will ultimately decide whether Super5000 turns into a fully-fledged category.
“Supercars retained the IP rights to a 5000 Series in March 2015 as part of the 2025 vision for sustained growth of the sport and motorsport in this country,” Warburton said.
“An increased emphasis on the Dunlop Super2 Series and the introduction of SuperUtes in 2018 are also part of the development of improved and more relevant support categories.
“Now this car has been developed and fully tested the market will ultimately decide.”
Tander tested the Super5000 at Phillip Island and was in awe of the power and speed of the open-wheeler.
“The initial impression was ‘wow’ this is a seriously fast race car and being much lighter than a Supercar with a similar amount of horsepower has plenty of acceleration,” Tander said.
“The drivability was fantastic and the traction control means you can tune just how much power you want to the ground so it’s not going to snap out on you.
“The car felt comfortable straight away and I had no problems from a safety point of view as it has all of the modern day features including F1 style head protection, which is important in a really fast car.
“It’s not every day someone throws you the keys to a 600 plus horsepower open wheeler with big tyres and wings so there will be a pretty long queue to get in one.
“I certainly had a huge smile on my face and the engineers were pretty impressed with its performance.”
The specification, performance and drivability of the Super5000 class provides a strong opportunity to attract international drivers to compete on an event by event, or full series basis.
The Tasman Series in the 1970s achieved that level of international driver participation, and the future championship or specified events could be developed to facilitate this again.