Motorsport Australia considering one-make Formula Ford series

Motorsport Australia is considering turning Formula Ford into a one-make series as it looks to revive the country's motor racing pathway.

Motorsport Australia considering one-make Formula Ford series
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The governing body today released a number of recommendations for Formula Ford that will be now be assessed through a wide-spread survey.

The recommendations include re-instating FF as a national series next year, before aiming for national championship status in 2023.

That would come as part of the introduction of a new single-make car, the development of which would be awarded through a tender process.

The car would continue to use a space frame rather than a monocoque and would be powered by a naturally-aspirated engine.

The acquisition cost of the new car would be between $100,000 and $120,000, while running costs would be similar to the current FF.

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Motorsport Australia is also considering finally giving FF a Supercars Superlicence allocations, with six points under the current technical regs and a move to 12 – just one short of the 13 required – with the new car.

These decisions have come as part of a working group established by Motorsport Australia after years of purposely neglecting Formula Ford.

The governing body turned its back on the category several years ago in a bid to get its self-promoted Formula 4 category off the ground.

Formula Ford was stripped of its championship and then series status and was ignored by the Superlicence system when it was introduced in 2016.

However F4 proved to be a spectacular failure for Motorsport Australia, with grids never consistently growing beyond low double digits before it was dumped in 2019.

FF, meanwhile, scaled its national series back to mostly running at state-level events, and continued to attract decent grids despite the lack of support from the governing body.

Looking to revive the pathway, Motorsport Australia established the Formula Ford working group consisting of Michael Smith, Trent Price and Jamie Augustine from Motorsport Australia, Dick Johnson Racing owner Ryan Story, former Supercars driver Andrew Jones, renowned FF team owner Michael Ritter and Phil Marrinon from the Formula Ford Association.

According to Story, who is the Chair of Motorsport Australia's Australian Motor Racing Commission, none of the recommendations are final.

"Let me tell you three truths that we hold to be self-evident," said Story in a public webinar hosted by Motorsport Australia on Tuesday.

"F4 was an unmitigated disaster. It did damage to the junior pathways that we had in this country and a lot of mistakes were made. We acknowledge that.

"Secondly, Motorsport Australia has not supported the FFA and there's a lot more that we can do.

"And a third and final point that I'd like to make is that no decisions have been made. We're still in a consultative process, we're still in an exploratory process.

"We haven't reached any conclusions. We've simply gone through a very regimented process and this is part of a consultative process."

While the introduction of Superlicence points and the reinstatement of either series or championship-status will likely be largely welcomed, the move to a single-make could prove controversial.

There is a large number of current-spec Formula Fords already in the country, which boosts the prospects of bigger fields rather than relying on this who fork out for the new car.

At the same time there are valid questions that could be asked regarding driver safety with the current cars, compared to more modern open-wheeler designs.

According to Smith an open-market Formula Ford may not be viable given the category has mostly died off in other parts of the world.

"There is a debate that if we were to evolve to a new car, would it be single-make option, or should we write a set of technical regulations and open it up to the market and let multiple manufacturers build cars," he said.

"It's an interesting point and one of the key things that we're keen to get feedback on is this very point.

"In the days of Formula Ford being in its heyday and there was racing in all European countries, there was much bigger markets for manufacturers to build and sell cars to.

"We're now in a market that's got 25 million people, so we need to take that into our considerations.

"But we need to make sure that whatever option we land on is going to provide the best result for the category moving forward. And that includes what the financial implications might be, but also making sure that we continue to support the local motorsport industry here in Australia."

Triple Eight is understood to be working on its own junior open-wheeler formula that could feasibly be considered as the new Formula Ford.


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