Thunder returns Down Under

OPEN-WHEELER FORMULA GOES BACK TO THE FUTURE

THE PROBLEMS with Formula 1 are easy to quantify. The cars are too quiet, the personalities are too inaccessible, there’s a vast gulf in performance between teams and commercial interests have taken precedence over the show. Former motorsport publishing MD, V8 Supercar Commission member and Historic F5000 fan Chris Lambden has come up with a home-grown alternative for Aussie race fans: FT5000.

Formula Thunder 5000 is a revival of the most spectacular and popular open wheeler category in Australian motorsport history – Formula 5000 – albeit with a modern twist.

The plan is to use a modern carbon-fibre monocoque chassis design, primarily built in Australia to accept a control 5-litre stock-block V8 engine. The aero rules are conservative, while tyres are deliberately hefty with the target of promoting mechanical rather than aero grip, putting a premium on driver skill. The project has been two years in planning and development, but now a prototype car, based in Melbourne, is just a few weeks away from initial on-track testing. Keeping a lid on costs has been a project priority Plans are in an advanced stage for a seven-round December (NZ) and January (Australia) Tasman series – again reviving a much-loved formula. “This has been quietly evolving for two years,” confirms Lambden, “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.

“We have specifically set an 18 year-old age minimum for FT5000, to emphasise that it’s not a development category, but something for drivers to take on once they’ve got that bit more experience," explains Lambden. “What happens next is very much up to the motorsport fraternity We are starting to build a register of genuinely interested parties who want to be part of it. Anyone who fits that description can contact us now at FT5000@bigpond. com."

ABOVE The sight and sound of a grid full of these cars should bring back a few memories.

FORMULA FUN

ENGINE ‘Sealed’ 570hp InnoV8 all-aluminium quad-cam V8 Coyote ‘Aluminator’ engine CHASSIS Carbon-fi bre tub, fully FIA crash-compliant GEARBOX Hollinger six-speed ‘sequential’ paddle-shift WHEELS Arrow three-piece Tyres Giti slicks SHOCK-ABSORBERS SupaShock control items ELECTRONICS MoTeC engine management and fl y-by-wire throttle RACE WEIGHT 680kg