The all-new S5000 category will feature a radical qualifying and race format when the V8-powered single-seaters take to the track for their historic first race event at Sandown on September 20-22.
For both the opening event at Sandown, and the second S5000 weekend at The Bend, the weekend will feature a qualifying session, plus two Qualifying Heats, the results of which will set the grid for the Main Race on Sunday afternoon.
Unique to the S5000 class, the two Qualifying Heats will feature a partial grid reversal, ensuring that plenty of action is guaranteed as the fastest drivers vie for the best-possible grid spot for the Main Race.
After qualifying, the pole position winner will be the first to select the grid place that they would like to take for the first race.
If that driver selects to start from pole, they will be sent towards the back of the grid for the second Qualifying Heat.
Once qualifying’s pole sitter has nominated their desired starting position, the driver who qualifies second will then get to select their starting position for the first heat, and so on until the grid is determined.
Only the top 75 percent of qualifiers will be involved in the grid reversal process. The bottom 25 percent qualifiers will start the first Qualifying Heat from the grid spot that they qualified, and will start the second heat from at the back, in the order they finished the first race.
The grid selections will be streamed on the Shannons Nationals broadcast shortly after qualifying, and will add an element of intrigue and strategy to the two Qualifying Race grids.
The field for the debut race for the new ‘wings and slicks’ V8-powered race cars will feature some of the biggest names in Australian and international motorsport, and already includes Formula 1 great Rubens Barrichello, Australian Indy 500 competitor Matthew Brabham and leading TCR Australia drivers Will Brown and John Martin. More team and driver combinations will be announced in the coming days.
Tickets for Sandown are on sale now. CLICK HERE to secure your place in Australian motorsport history.
Category Manager, S5000
“We want entertaining racing all weekend, so the idea is that for the Main Race, the person on pole has to earn it – by racing and passing other cars,” said Chris Lambden.
“This will certainly mix things up during the two Qualifying Heats – much like the Top 8 reversals in international F2 and F3 do – and the reward for qualifying fastest is the right to pick first. Points from Qualifying, plus the two Qualifying Heats will determine the grid for the Main race – which in a full championship series will earn the majority of the points.
“I’m a fan of World Speedway, where the riders get to select their starting gates for the finals based on their performance in the heats. It adds a bit of theatre to it all and a reward for performance. And in our case, whoever gets pole for the Main Race will certainly have earned it, by needing to pass a few cars along the way.
“It should provide some action and excitement on the way to Sunday’s Main Race. It’s what we’re planning to do for next year’s championship series, and it’s a great opportunity to try it out.”
“The qualifying races are sure going to add an extra layer of excitement and unknown to the weekend,” said John Martin.
“It’s going to make for an interesting choice. If I’m quickest in qualifying, do I take Grid 1, hopefully lock in a win, then do my best to charge through from near the back? Or go halfway for both and try and pick up as many spots as I can.
“Whatever the case, it’s going to be an intriguing pair of Qualifying Heats.
“And, thankfully, it’s just about sorting the grid for the Main Race, so even if someone gets it wrong in the Heats, there’s every chance of making amends in the big race.”
SANDOWN S5000 TRACK TIMES
PRACTICE 1 – 12:20pm
PRACTICE 2 – 3:25pm
QUALIFYING – 11.15am
QUALIFYING HEAT 1 – 2.20pm (Live on SBS)
QUALIFYING HEAT 2 – 10.05am
MAIN RACE – 2.15pm (Live on SBS)