Thun­der downun­der

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

New-age Trans-Tas­man For­mula 5000 un­veiled

We’ve had a V8 tour­ing car cat­e­gory in Aus­tralia for more than 20 years. But it’s been nearly 40 years since we’ve had a ‘big-banger’ V8 open­wheeler for­mula.

That could be about to change, with the an­nounce­ment of a pro­posed new big-en­gined open­wheeler cat­e­gory to be known as For­mula Thun­der 5000.

In sim­ple terms, For­mula Thun­der 5000 is a new-age ver­sion of our premier open­wheeler cat­e­gory from the 1970s, the 5-litre stock-block V8 For­mula 5000.

The ba­sis of the new For­mula Thun­der 5000 (FT5000) is a one-make car­bon-fi­bre mono­coque chas­sis pow­ered by a spe­cially de­vel­oped 5-litre stock-block Ford V8 en­gine.

FT5000 is the brain­child of for­mer jour­nal­ist, pub­lisher and more re­cently his­toric F5000 driver Chris Lamb­den.

“This has been qui­etly evolv­ing for two years,” Lamb­den said, “ever since I had the op­por­tu­nity to race a his­toric F5000 car my­self.

“Ev­ery­where we went, the re­ac­tion was the same – that is, that this was the best thing ever in Aus­tralian motorsport and what a shame there wasn’t some­thing like it now.

“I even­tu­ally started to take that on board and de­cided to see if there was any way a sen­si­bly cost-con­trolled, mod­ern ver­sion of the great­est open­wheeler for­mula in Aus­tralia’s motorsport his­tory, out­side of F1, might be pos­si­ble – and that’s what I be­lieve we’ve come up with.

“The FT5000 car will be a se­ri­ously chal­leng­ing, pow­er­ful, fast, open­wheeler race car to drive ... and the sight and sound of a grid full of them get­ting off the line should be awe­some ...”

Lamb­den stresses that the over-rid­ing aim has been to keep the costs as low and as con­trolled as pos­si­ble. To that end, the car is com­prised mostly of ‘con­trol’ com­po­nents – most of which will be man­u­fac­tured in Aus­tralia and New Zealand. The over­all car spec­i­fi­ca­tion will also be frozen for a min­i­mum of four years.

Cru­cial to the project’s vi­a­bil­ity has been the abil­ity to use Swift Engi­neer­ing’s pre-2012 Ja­panese For­mula Nip­pon chas­sis as the ba­sis for the FT5000 car. Along with per­mis­sion to use the chas­sis de­sign, Lamb­den has also ac­quired Swift’s man­u­fac­tur­ing tools and pat­terns for it.

“That is what, in re­al­ity, has al­lowed the project to pro­ceed,” he said. “The de­sign is fully FIA crash-test com­pli­ant, so it’s right up there in terms of safety stan­dards – and it’s a cool­look­ing car.”

The ac­tual con­struc­tion of the cars will be an al­most-en­tirely home-grown af­fair.

The chas­sis will be man­u­fac­tured in Mel­bourne ex-McLaren F1 com­pos­ites en­gi­neer Lee Ca­son. Con­struc­tion will be over­seen by Mike Bor­land, chief of Bor­land Rac­ing, the Mel­bourne-based man­u­fac­turer of Spec­trum For­mula Ford rac­ing cars.

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