FT5000 targets January 2018 series launch

Gordon Lomas

Tuesday 17th January, 2017 - 2:43pm

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Todd Hazelwood having a taste of the FT5000 machine at Phillip Island. pic: Frog Dog Photography

Formula Thunder 5000 creator Chris Lambden has earmarked an Australia-only series to kick off the evocative open-wheel class early next year.

Following the latest searching durability outing at Phillip Island with the Coyote V8-powered Swift designed prototype, it has been decided to defer intentions to host a Trans-Tasman style schedule.

However Lambden told Speedcafe.com that the inaugural series will assume a rapid-fire five rounds in five consecutive weekends format from January, 2018.

While styled similar to New Zealand’s Toyota Racing Series which kicked off at Ruapuna last weekend, Lambden says FT5000 should not be seen as a competitor to the TRS which has become a breeding ground for top international F3 talent.

“As a result of feedback from people who are already involved, we’ve decided that in year one (2018), the whole Trans-Tasman idea is a bit of a complexity in getting off the ground,” Lambden told Speedcafe.com.

“So our series will be Australia-only from January next year and it will run five events in five weeks.

“Assuming it goes okay then we can look at including New Zealand but for the moment you can’t tick all the boxes in one go.

“While it will be a bit like the Toyota Racing Series in NZ which runs for five consecutive weekends, we are not trying to compete with that.

“TRS is a fantastic development series and the overseas driver involvement is quite high and very few of them are over the age of 18.

“We are looking at ours as not a development series but something in its own right.

“But having said that I’m really trying to encourage young driver participation. I really don’t want it to be seen as an extension of historic racing. It is a modern category.”

Dunlop Development Series star Todd Hazelwood, Porsche Carrera Cup racer Michael Almond and Radical racer Simon Meade all shared the FT5000 in the latest outing at the Victorian circuit.

“Todd is a very impressive young man. I really hope that in due course he could end up doing something like this as well as his other commitments,” Lambden said.

“Getting feedback from different people is good. It’s all pretty similar. Generally it all starts with ‘wow’ and then goes on from there.

“We are still sorting out the best balance on the car so all the feedback is good.

“By the end of the session at Phillip Island the rear tyres on the car had done about 140 laps and they were still in reasonable condition.

“That’s another box we have ticked in that we can run them for a reasonable distance if we had to.

“We’ve now passed the magic 1000km mark in miles for the car and the engine and gearbox haven’t missed a beat which is what we had hoped for.

FT5000 has generated overseas interest from prospective competitors and has seen a number of deposits for cars lodged.

However locking in a race schedule is proving a challenging task, according to Lambden.

“It’s chicken and egg situation. We’ve got some interested parties. We’ve had people pay a deposit on some cars, we’ve got other people close but at the same time we’ve got to firm up event plans as well,” he explained.

“But you can’t lock in events and go to tracks and say we’ve got this number. It’s a bit of a juggling act.

“It’s a definite double-edged sword. You can’t formalise events unless you can go to the tracks and say we’ve got such and such a number.”