Leading Carrera Cup outfit McElrea Racing plans to create a multi-tier development pathway for young drivers by adding a Formula 4 team to its stable.
Team owner Andy McElrea has targeted a three-car attack on the new championship, which is set to kick-off at Townsville in July.
Just three teams – AGI Sport, Team BRM and DREAM Motorsport – have currently committed to the open-wheel class, for which CAMS has purchased 20 cars from manufacturer Mygale.
McElrea says that adding an F4 program will enable his Queensland-based operation to take youngsters from karts and prepare them for seats in the team’s Porsche stable.
The team currently runs two cars in the Carrera Cup and five in the second-tier GT3 Cup Challenge, as well as three Australian GT Championship entries.
McElrea’s outfit also has close ties with Asian motorsport, having assisted Carrera Cup Asia teams for the last seven years, which adds a further element to its driver development plans.
“I’ve spent a lot of time around go-kart tracks in the last couple of years and have been overwhelmed by the amount of talent in Australian karting,” McElrea told Speedcafe.com.
“Being a Carrera Cup team, we really have no stepping stone from go-karting to what we do, both for Australian and Asian kids.
“Formula 4 makes perfect sense for what we want to do and we’re very keen to get our teeth into it.
“We’ve been working closely with Cam McConville (CAMS’ Formula 4 category manager) who has been great with communication with some of the interested parties,” he added.
“We’re very focussed on making it happen and putting three cars on the grid by Townsville.”
The economics of the F4 championship have been heavily scrutinised since a $200,000 per season budget ‘guideline’ was issued to prospective teams by CAMS last year.
While that number won’t be strictly enforced, McElrea stresses that his team won’t enter the class with the intention of it being a direct revenue stream.
“The FIA have mandated certain budgets that they’d like teams to meet globally, which will be hard to achieve given that we’re racing at V8 Supercar events,” he said.
“But for us it’s not so much about the financial side, it’s about the strategy of introducing new drivers to our team who we can potentially have onboard for three or four years.
“We can take them into F4 and then all the way through GT3 Cup Challenge and the Carrera Cup.”
McElrea’s current Carrera Cup line-up is spearheaded by 19-year-old Matt Campbell, who won Class B of the GT3 Cup Challenge with the team last year.
Campbell and long-time McElrea driver Warren Luff have been named as driver coaches for the team’s planned foray into F4.