New Formula Ford car to race in 2024

Formula Ford at Phillip Island. Picture: Speed Shots Photography

A new-generation Formula Ford car will race in a Motorsport Australia national championship from 2024, the governing body has announced.

The new car will be a tubular chassis, and will feature a number of new safety components, including the halo, front and rear crash structures, side impact crash structure, an extractable seat, driver headrest, sidepods and wheel tethers.

Multiple manufacturers will be able to build the cars, which are expected to be around a second per lap quicker than those which currently race in the Australian Formula Ford Series.

That competition regained Motorsport Australia series status this year, and will evolve into the ‘Formula Ford National Championship’ in 2024, while continuing to offer Superlicence points.

The existing cars will be eligible to compete until at least 2027, although the new cars will not be allowed into the Motorsport Australia State Championships until an as yet unconfirmed point in the future.

According to Motorsport Australia, the cost of a new-generation car is estimated at $110,000 to $130,000, up only slightly from the price of $100,000 to $115,000 for a current car.

The developments follow the formation of a working group in the first half of last year to determine whether or not Formula Ford should be revived as a national championship, or a similar category introduced to the landscape.

It had been tentatively planned that the new car and national championship would come into place next year, although that was subject to “a big asterisk” at the time.

That was the comment from Michael Smith, chair of the working group and Motorsport Australia’s director of motorsport and commercial operations, who said in today’s announcement that a 2024 introduction gives certainty to the industry.

“We’re excited to be announcing this new generation of Formula Ford car which will be developed and built by a number of motorsport manufacturers around Australia,” said Smith.

“We are announcing this new car now so we can give certainty to the market as well as helping the next generation of racers consider their careers and development opportunities in the years ahead.

“Likewise, we want current car owners to know they have a place to race their cars and that they’ll be eligible to compete at a national level, alongside the new car.

“The Formula Ford Working Group is also adamant that the introduction of this new car must be done in an appropriate manner with regard to the current Formula Ford Series.

“Based on our ongoing discussions, Formula Ford still has the support of the industry and is seen as a suitable pathway for many young drivers and bringing in a new car allows the category to continue to be a relevant pathway for those up-and-coming drivers.”

Ryan Story, who chairs the Australian Motor Racing Commission and was part of the original Formula Ford Working Group, reiterated his belief in the value of the category for developing young drivers.

Story’s own Shell V-Power Racing Team steerers, Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale, are national Formula Ford champions, and the squad gave Tom Sargent a test in one of its Mustang Supercars as a prize for him taking out the national title last year.

“We all recognise the role of Formula Ford as a stepping stone up the racing ladder,” said Story.

“Both Will and Anton are Formula Ford champions, and it’s fantastic to be able to give back with a Supercar test day for the reigning champion.

“Tom was a fine example as the reigning champion and winner of the Bathurst 6 Hour. He conducted himself professionally and achieved lap times that impressed given the conditions.

“There’s a role for the Formula Ford Association and Championship in drivers coming through and making it to Supercars domestically or Formula Renault or similar internationally.

“There’s no question of the value of the Formula Ford Championship.”

The Formula Ford Technical Working Group was established out of the original working group in June last year and, along with Motorsport Australia, has consulted widely in the industry.

The Working Group was made up of Smith, Jamie Augustine, Andrew Jones, Ryan McLeod, Mike Borland and Jeromy Moore.

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