THE S5000 category will start two seasons in 2021, crowning its first champion in May before starting a new season in September as it shifts to a summer-based schedule.
The V8-powered open wheel category was meant to have its maiden full season in 2020 under the resurrected Australian Drivers’ Championship banner, kicking off with non-championship races on the support card of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix with star guests Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella.
However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Albert Park event after qualifying along with of all S5000’s scheduled events for the rest of the year.
The 2021 S5000 Australian Drivers’ championship will consist of four rounds, beginning at Symmons Plains on the Australia Day long weekend in January followed by non-championship demonstrations at Baskerville Raceway the following weekend.
The championship will then visit Phillip Island in February and a venue still to be announced in March before wrapping up at Sydney Motorsport Park in May.
The three announced events see S5000 appear on the bill at TCR Australia and Shannons Motorsport Australia Championship events – events that will receive live coverage on free-to-air TV as part of the Australian Racing Group’s multi-year broadcast deal with Seven.
S5000 will then launch into its 2021/22 season at Sandown in September with plans for a championship of six or seven rounds across the summer months, including the category’s long-awaited race at Mount Panorama at the 2021 Bathurst International.
“It was always my view that S5000 should avoid the downsides of racing across winter in the southern states, and that’s exactly what we will now be doing,” category manager Chris Lambden said.
“This series, slimmed back to four championship rounds in four months due to the delayed start and aimed at keeping series entrant costs down while the country gets back on its feet, will decide the first S5000 Gold Star Champion.
“We will then take a winter ‘off-season’ break and kick off a full 6 or 7 round 2021/22 championship in September, at Sandown, running through to April again.
“Firming up the calendar allows our existing, and new, competitors the certainty they need to prepare well for the first Gold Star Championship for several years.
“The four rounds are at four of the very best race tracks in the country, and S5000 will provide a spectacular contest. There are some strong combinations coming together, and so, at last, we will be able to put on the show that was so close to kicking off last March.
“In these still tricky times, with team economics likely being stressed for a little while yet, S5000 offers up-and-coming drivers what was intended from the start – the fastest and most spectacular race cars in the country, but at race budget levels way below many other national racing formulae.
“The grid is taking shape again, teams will be starting pre-season testing shortly, and we’re ready to provide real motorsport fans with something spectacular over the summer.
“It’s just so good to be able to go racing again …”
CALENDAR: 2021 S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship
|1||January 24-26||Symmons Plains, TAS|
|2||February||Phillip Island, VIC|
|4||April 30-May 2||Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW|