At Round 6 of the Shannons Nationals Australia and, thanks to international drivers such as Rubens Barrichello, the wider motorsport world finally got a taste of what the S5000 category looked, sounded and raced like. Unfortunately with a weird numbered qualifying setup that some found hard to follow, less than perfect weather and an incident marred feature race the S5000 arrived with all the excitement of the current era Formula 1 engines.
With a 6 race calendar announced for 2020 including a feature race at the 2020 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix plus a non championship round at Bathurst later in the year and a field of, in S5000 terms, largely inexperienced drivers, what would the second outing of the S5000s hold?
At the end of Practice 1 it was clear that the first round jitters and cobwebs were getting pushed aside with Thomas Randle getting close to the outright lap record in the session with a lap time of 1 Minute 41.6079 seconds which was less than a second off the outright record set by John Magro in a Formula 3 car earlier in the year.
As Practice 2 got underway, Thomas Randle made no secret that he wanted to beat the outright lap record and he edged ever closer to doing this putting in a blistering 1 Minute 41.2460 lap time and with all 10 cars getting through the session trouble free, it was another good showing by the category at its first outing at The Bend.
On Saturday morning with the weather unsure what to do, the S5000 drivers headed out to the track with eyes on Randle to see if he could hit the lap record with him looking at hitting the 1 Minute 40 bracket first off but running wide through the final corner and into the rough stuff ultimately costing him pole position and the lap record.
Meanwhile behind him Anton De Pasquale did a mighty last lap as the chequered flag fell with a time of 1 Minute 41.2729 to score pole position. The top 6 were only separated by 1.0444 seconds and the back marker Brayden Willmington 5.5676 second behind.
Early in the afternoon and not without some pre-race drama with Thomas Randle slamming his finger in a card door, the S5000s returned to the track and over the twelve laps he managed to build a 10 second gap to his nearest rival, teammate Pasquale.
Tim Macrow was the only major casualty of the race with him spinning his V8 powered S5000 as the field went by dropping him to eighth of the ten runners.
As the sun rose over The Bend Motorsport Park for the last day of the Shannons Nationals, the S5000 field lined up for mid morning race with a reverse grid starting order. After his spin during race 1, Tim Macrow defended well to hold off a challenge from Jimmy Golding and John Martin with this race deciding the starting order for the final race later in the day.
After four entertaining outings of the S5000 category, the feature race on Sunday afternoon was set to be an exciting one and again, the drivers didn’t fail to deliver.
From the balcony up on the 3rd floor of the The Bend Motorsport Park’s welcome centre, the roar of the S5000s as they took off for the race start was deafening. Its hard to put it into perspective the sound that these 10 V8 monsters made, but at ground level earplugs would definitely be a must if you value your hearing.
As the lights went out, it was clear that Anton De Pasquale had jumped the start, a mistake that would see him receive a 5 second penalty later in the race, however the most costly mistake was hitting teammate Thomas Randle on the opening lap which earnt him a 10 second penalty which ultimately relegated him to 4th.
James Golding and Tim Macrow came together during lap 1 which led to both of them coming to a stop and Michael Gibson suffering from a mechanical failure on the 13th lap of 16.
John Martin had a moment when he slid off through during the downhill at Whincup’s Folly but managed to rejoin the track ahead of Randle setting up a right race to the finish by them both.
On the podium Martin’s win earned him some champagne down his race suit from third place Will Brown with Martin later remarking that the champagne had managed to make it down to somewhere champagne should not touch!