Motorsport Australia says a new breed of Formula Ford cars developed and built by a number of manufacturers around Australia will race in a national Formula Ford Championship from 2024.
The tubular chassis will feature a number of safety components, including a halo, front and rear crash structures, side impact crash structure, extractable seat, driver headrest, sidepods and wheel tethers.
Motorsport Australia said the cars are expected to be around one second per lap quicker than the current cars.
Multiple manufacturers will be allowed to build cars, which will debut in a new look Formula Ford National Championship in 2024, with the category to continue to earn Superlicence points.
Existing cars will remain eligible to compete alongside the new cars until at least 2027. The new car will not be eligible to compete in Motorsport Australia State Championships until sometime in the future, with a date to be confirmed soon.
Motorsport Australia director of motorsport & commercial operations, Michael Smith, said the Formula Ford Technical Working Group had worked for many months, together with possible manufacturers.
“We’re excited to be announcing this new generation of Formula Ford car which will be developed and built by a number of motorsport manufacturers around Australia,” said Smith.
“We are announcing this new car now so we can give certainty to the market as well as helping the next generation of racers consider their careers and development opportunities in the years ahead. Likewise, we want current car owners to know they have a place to race their cars and that they’ll be eligible to compete at a national level, alongside the new car.
“The Formula Ford Working Group is also adamant that the introduction of this new car must be done in an appropriate manner with regard to the current Formula Ford Series.
“Based on our ongoing discussions, Formula Ford still has the support of the industry and is seen as a suitable pathway for many young drivers and bringing in a new car allows the category to continue to be a relevant pathway for those up-and-coming drivers.”
Australian Motor Racing Commission (AMRC) chair, Ryan Story, was also pleased with the change, acknowledging Formula Ford’s role in developing young drivers.
“We all recognise the role of Formula Ford as a stepping stone up the racing ladder,” said Story.
“Both Will (Davison) and Anton (De Pasquale) are Formula Ford champions, and it’s fantastic to be able to give back with a Supercar test day for the reigning champion.
“Tom (Sargent) was a fine example as the reigning champion and winner of the Bathurst 6 Hour. He conducted himself professionally and achieved lap times that impressed given the conditions.
“There’s a role for the Formula Ford Association and championship in drivers coming through and making it to Supercars domestically or Formula Renault or similar internationally. There’s no question of the value of the Formula Ford Championship.”
Formula Ford Australia’s Phil Marrinon welcomed the news.
“The Formula Ford Association welcomes this initiative and is proud to be a part of ensuring Formula Ford continues to be the main development pathway for circuit racing in Australia,” said Marrinon.
“Safety and cost control has always been the guiding principles of our Formula Ford rulebook. With the advanced safety features becoming more affordable, the time is right to introduce them into our regulations.
“We are one of the few Formula car categories that encourages diverse manufacturer involvement, and our local constructors will be some of the first in the world to build tube frame chassis with these advanced safety features. We look forward to working with Motorsport Australia to continue to foster not only Australia’s next generation of driving talent, but helping train Australia’s upcoming Motorsport engineers and mechanics, just as we have done for 50 years.”
Motorsport Australia said the new car is estimated to cost between $110,000 and $130,000, comparing favourably to a current car, which can be purchased for approximately $100,000 to $115,000.
Members of the Formula Ford Technical Working Group included Motorsport Australia staff and key Formula Ford representatives. The working group was made up of Michael Smith, Jamie Augustine, Andrew Jones, Ryan McLeod, Mike Borland and Jeromy Moore.
Motorsport Australia said it and the working group consulted widely with people across the sport.