S5000 could break two minutes at Bathurst

Braydan Willmington laps Bathurst in the S5000

A sub-two-minute lap is considered a realistic chance when S5000 races around Mount Panorama for the first time, at the Bathurst International.

S5000s were part of a 2019 media shoot at the circuit before Braydan Willmington cut demonstration laps at last weekend’s Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.

No lap time data for the latter was released beyond what could be gleaned from footage of an onboard lap distributed by the category’s media unit, which showed the youngster clocking a 2:20.24s followed by a 2:17.29s.

Those times can hardly be considered representative, however, given the fastest official Supercars lap at Mount Panorama is a 2:03.4813s, and Willmington was apparently not pushing as hard as possible.

S5000 category manager Chris Lambden is tipping that the V8-powered open-wheelers will in fact nudge two minutes at the mountain.

“I’m pretty sure they will be as they have been everywhere else, a little bit quicker than a Supercar around there,” he told Speedcafe.com.

“Given what Supercars do, the magic two minutes is something that that people are talking about.”

At Sandown, an S5000 lapped as quickly as a 1:05.0191s, in Heat 1 at the 2019 Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships round, while the Supercars practice/qualifying lap record is a 1:07.5425s.

At Symmons Plains, the practice/qualifying record for an S5000 is a 49.3463s versus a 50.5084s for a Supercar, while at The Bend, the comparison is 1:41.2460s versus 1:47.4959s.

Other points of reference are the fastest Bathurst lap for a GT3 car in its legal balance of performance specification, that being the 2:01.2860s that Shane van Gisbergen drove in a McLaren 650S in 2016, while Simon Hodge cut a 2:02.6701s in a Formula 3 in 2014.

“At the end of the day, I think they’ll be a couple of seconds quicker than a GT, the fastest of the GT cars,” predicted Lambden.

“I’ve never done the comparison between downforce and et cetera that a top GT car has in comparison with S5000.

“Our downforce is less than a Formula 3 car, and it was by design.”

The S5000s, which were originally conceived as a modern day take on the Formula 5000 category, are noticeably skittish compared to other contemporary open-wheelers.

Lambden anticipates that they will be lively across the top of Mount Panorama, where a GT3, for example, is relatively planted.

“I still have to explain to people that, had we wished to, we could have doubled the downforce on these cars, added 60 horsepower at a couple of key strokes on a laptop, and run tyres that had grip for three or four laps and then fell apart, and be 10 to 12 seconds a lap faster,” he remarked.

“They’ll be a challenge across the top of the mountain, and [through] pure power-to-weight, they should get down the straights reasonably well.”

While the communication regarding the demonstrations referred to an “anticipated racing debut” at Mount Panorama, Australian Racing Group CEO Matt Braid has reaffirmed that the VHT S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship will indeed race at the Bathurst International in November.

Braid also reiterated that Motorsport Australia had given its approval.

“They’re racing, it’s just how many people are going to turn up, basically,” Braid told Speedcafe.com.

“Grid size is the only variable at the moment, but they’ll be at the Bathurst International.”

The demonstrations, undertaken in sessions on the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning of the Bathurst 6 Hour event, were in fact about fine-tuning.

According to Lambden, Willmington’s laps will yield useful information for that purpose.

“It was very, very simple stuff, just mainly do the right height,” he explained.

“We’ll get the info back on top speeds, and overall top speed, things like that. It was very, very simple.

“This stuff doesn’t hit the ground through The Dipper, which is one of the questions that was raised.

“So, from that perspective, it’s been a good step forward.”

The Bathurst International takes place on November 26-28, with that round to form part of the 2021/22 S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship.

The 2021 season concludes on April 30-May 2 at the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships event at Sydney Motorsport Park.

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