Supercars star Nick Percat will return to Formula 1000 this weekend in a bid to break the 53-second barrier at Barbagallo Wanneroo Raceway.
The Bathurst winner made what was meant to be a one-off return to single-seater racing earlier this year, banking a pole and three race wins at the Perth circuit in an Arise Racing F1000.
He also set a new lap record for the category with a blisteringly-quick 53.079s
Percat is now set to return to the category on November 16 for a crack at his own lap record, his sights firmly set on dipping under the 53s mark.
He’ll drive the car usually raced by series leader Adam Lisle.
The F1000 return follows the conclusion of the first-ever Arise Racing Driver Search, Percat himself having played a key role in the judging and selection process.
Max McRae, son of former World Rally Championship competitor Alister McRae, younger brother of Colin McRae, took out the top prize, the 14-year-old winning a fully-funded seat for the 2020 WA Formula 1000 season.
Gianni Lutzu won a 75 per cent subsidised F1000 drive for 2020 thanks to finishing second in the Driver Search, while third-placed Ryan Bender will have his drive subsidised by 50 per cent.
Elliott Schutte and Andrew Malkin, who finished fourth and fifth, will make their Radical race debuts at Barbagallo this weekend as the final prize winners.
On the F1000 return: “I’ve seen a 52s-lap on the dash before, but the Natsoft timing loop is slightly different.
“I’m in the boss’s car this weekend and the pedal box is a bit more accommodating for a tall person like myself. I sat in it the other day when I was in Perth for the Driver Search, and I thought ‘yeah, there’s a bit of time to be found here’.
“We’ll put some new tyres on and have a red hot go. It’s such a fun car to drive and the Arise crew do such a good job. For me it’s all about having fun and enjoying my racing with no pressure. I just get to have a skid and race against some of the other coaches and competitors.
On the Driver Search:
“It was seriously impressive seeing how he handled the whole thing, nothing seems to faze him. ”
“He looks like he’s two seconds off the pace when you watch him, and then you see the stopwatch and you go ‘hang on, he’s really motoring’. He was a standout, he was the fastest and the smoothest – which doesn’t always match the McRae name! ”
“He listened the whole way through. It wasn’t all about lap time, there were a lot of boxes that needed to be ticked like data and even the way they presented themselves and spoke. ”
“The overall level in the final round was incredible. We were wondering how we were going to pick a winner, to be honest, because they were all so close. ”
“It’s a great programme, I hope this is the start of something big. Once people see that it’s the real deal, that these guys do end up in a car for a season, they’ll see what a great deal it is.”
“I am really excited to have won the Arise Driver Search. I can’t really believe it at the moment and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the F1000.
“Winning the Driver Search means a lot. To move from karts into the F1000 with Arise Racing and all the support will be amazing.
“It’s awesome that Arise Racing have put this programme together. Working and learning from the coaches really helped me get up to speed in the Radical. I have enjoyed every bit of the Driver Search and I can’t wait to keep on learning with the team next season.
“I’d like to say a massive thanks to all the people at Arise Racing that made the Driver Search possible.”
“I am incredibly excited about the year ahead with the team at Arise, and to be able to race the fastest car in the state against extremely fast experienced drivers is a huge opportunity”
“Driving the Radical Sr3 was an amazing experience. For being the first time in a race car, I realised just how big of a step up it is compared to driving a go kart.
You have so much more around you, so much more feeling, more grip, more downforce, and the car being much larger than a kart it is heavier and is more physical to drive.”
“With the 3 different rounds of the driver search, it gave me a great opportunity to work on racing in different conditions and having to adjust your driving every lap.”
“All the team at Arise racing are fantastic. Everything clicked very quickly and the way every single member is focused on achieving the best results out of yourself on track, but also getting the most out of myself as a person off track which I really like.”
Check out the 4th and 5th place Schutte and Malkin lining up on the field this weekend with Nick Percat and the Stewart Sisters at the WA Sporting Car Club’s final meet of the year – The Wanneroo Enduro.