Another international driver has joined the S5000 series ranks with New Zealander Tom Alexander confirmed to compete in the category’s highly anticipated Sandown Raceway debut later this month.
The emerging Kiwi star joins John Martin at AGI Sport after being one of the first drivers to test out the open wheel cars at the Sydney Motorsport Park’s official launch event last November.
Alexander is considered one of New Zealand’s most promising talents, having a colourful CV made up of class victories in the Toyota 86 series and two seasons in NZ Touring Cars, where he finished second in 2017.
The 25-year-old is currently joint leader in the new Australian SuperUte Series and along with the help of mentor and NZ motor sport legend Ken Smith, Alexander said he was excited to tackle the new open wheel category.
“It’s very exciting to be involved in the opening race weekend for S5000,” Alexander said.
“Over the past few years, I’ve driven a number of the old Formula 5000s, and as soon as I heard about the class, it was always something that I was keen to be involved in.
“To line up alongside Rubens Barrichello, an absolute legend, is going to be really cool. I watched him when he was racing at Ferrari in Formula 1, so it will be kind of surreal to be in the same race as him.
“I drove the car at Sydney last November and I really loved it. At that stage, the car hadn’t had much in the way of development, but out of the gate, I could feel how good it was. It has everything that you want in a big, powerful open wheel race car.
“One of the things that I love most is that it has remained in the spirit of the old Formula 5000 cars, but with newer technology. It’s great that they’ve been able to encapsulate the old stuff and make it safe and reliable.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be with Ken for eight years, and the amount of experience he has is invaluable. It’s great to have him in my bunker.”
A big supporter of Alexander, supplying the Auckland based driver with a number big-horsepower open wheelers in the past, Smith was thrilled to help get Alexander involved.
“I’ve been looking after Tom since he was 16. I’ve seen him drive Formula Fords, Toyota 86, SuperTourers, older F5000s and it doesn’t matter what he is in, he is very quick at what he does,” Smith said.
“In the last two years, he has been driving a lot of different stuff, but whatever he is in, he is professional and very fast. I rate him highly.
“S5000 is really the perfect place for Tom to be right now. Regardless of whether you want to be a saloon car driver or you want to race open wheelers overseas, there are so many things that S5000 is going to be able to prepare you for – big horsepower, low downforce, race craft – the whole lot.
“I really want other Kiwis to get involved. This is going to be a magical class, and I reckon in the next few months, you are going to see a lot more people from New Zealand driving them.
“The old Formula 5000 cars were fabulous, but they are horrible dangerous. This is a modern car and it is going to teach kids to drive properly. I tested the original one at Pukekohe, and that was great to drive, and this one is even better with a lot of power and that mindfulness that you are in a safe car.”
The new series begins as part of the Shannons Nationals at Sandown Raceway on 20-22 September.
For those able to make it to Sandown, tickets are now on sale with 10 per cent of all sales going to charity partner Very Special Kids.
S5000 has been confirmed as part of an expanded Shannons Nationals live television coverage on SBS, including carsales TCR Australia Series.