Experienced open-wheeler driver Tim Macrow says the Formula Thunder 5000 concept is “a whole bunch of fun to drive”, following his first proper test in the car at Phillip Island this week.
Macrow, now a three-time Australian Formula 3 Championship after wrapping up this year’s title a round early, has been put in charge of the development of the Formula Thunder 5000 prototype car, which will form the basis of a new series later next year.
The FT5000 prototype enjoyed its first proper test day at Phillip Island earlier this week, which followed a shakedown at Winton and a maiden public appearance at Sydney Motorsport Park. After 70 faultless laps, and a best time of 1m24.5s, Macrow was left blown away with the V8-powered monster.
“The car is just a whole bunch of fun to drive,” he told Motorsport.com.
“It’s got enough aero grip, but you can still make the car move around and talk to you.
“It’s got enough power, close to 600 horsepower, and it's got good grip. I think it will provide good racing, because it’s got the aero, but not too much aero. If you had 15 of them on the grid, it would be amazing.
“It’s going to be challenging to drive, which is good. It’s fast, it sounds incredible, there is just no downside to the car.
“Obviously it’s very similar to and F3 car in that it’s a carbon car, and it does everything right, it behaves like a proper open-wheel car. It’s just bigger.
“Of course the F3 car is a little bit more nimble than this one. They produce their grip in a slightly different way; the Formula Thunder 5000 has more mechanical grip than an F3 car, but not quite as much aero. So they’re getting there in a different way.
“And the power more than makes up for any lack in aero.
“It’s an absolute buzz to manhandle it around. It’s awesome.”
While the times at Phillip Island already match Macrow’s own F3 lap record, and are not far off the outright record, Macrow reckons there is still plenty to come as the development team gets its head around the car and the Giti tyres.
“There is much more laptime to unlock,” he said.
“We’re still being pretty conservative, and we’re still doing a lot of tyre testing for Giti so that we get exactly the construction that we want.
“We’ve got a lot of ideas with shock stuff and aero stuff that we want to evaluate as well, so there is a lot of laptime left to unlock.
“To be honest, we want to be nice and consistent on those test days as well, so I could be driving the thing slightly harder. But at the moment it’s all about making the platform stable and driveable.
“Ultimate lap time, we’ve still got a lot more to find. And it’s not going to be difficult to do it.”