Fast Kiwi confirmed for S5000 debut at Sandown
Emerging New Zealand star Tom Alexander will compete in the opening race meeting of the all-new S5000 class at Sandown Raceway on September 20-22.
With the assistance of his long-time supporter, mentor and New Zealand motorsport legend Ken Smith, Alexander will drive a second AGI Sport S5000 car, joining John Martin as the two drivers confirmed for the team.
The Auckland resident was one of the first drivers to sample the all-new S5000 car, cutting laps at the official launch event at Sydney Motorsport Park in November last year.
Alexander is one of New Zealand’s most promising talents. A winner in local Formula Ford competition, he progressed to the Toyota 86, winning the class in 2015. He spent the next two season in the NZ Touring cars, finishing second in 2017, before moving to the new SuperUte Series in Australia. In his second season, he is currently the joint leader with three rounds remaining.
While his recent CV has seen him driver cars with roofs, he is no stranger to big-horsepower open wheelers, having raced a number of historic Formula 5000 and Formula Atlantic cars for Smith – an avid supporter of open wheel racing and the S5000 class.
Smith, MBE, needs no introduction to followers of motorsport in Australasia. The 78-year-old is a five-times NZ Gold Star champion, and has raced in classes such as Formula Ford, Formula 5000, Formula Pacific, Formula Mondial and Toyota Racing Series. In fact, Smith, amazingly, is currently in his 60th consecutive year of motorsport – a record unlikely to ever be challenged.
Smith will be at Sandown to mentor his young charge Alexander alongside the Sydney-based AGI Sport squad.
Alexander’s spot on the grid of wings and slicks V8-powered race cars will feature some of the biggest names in Australian and international motorsport that already includes Formula 1 great Rubens Barrichello, Australian Indy 500 competitor Matthew Brabham and leading TCR Australia drivers Will Brown and John Martin.
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“It’s very exciting to be involved in the opening race weekend for S5000,” said Tom Alexander.
“Over the past few years, I’ve driven a number of the old Formula 5000s, and as soon as I heard about the class, it was always something that I was keen to be involved in.
“To line up alongside Rubens Barrichello, an absolute legend, is going to be really cool. I watched him when he was racing at Ferrari in Formula 1, so it will be kind of surreal to be in the same race as him.
“I drove the car at Sydney last November and I really loved it. At that stage, the car hadn’t had much in the way of development, but out of the gate, I could feel how good it was. It has everything that you want in a big, powerful open wheel race car.
“One of the things that I love most is that it has remained in the spirit of the old Formula 5000 cars, but with newer technology. It’s great that they’ve been able to encapsulate the old stuff and make it safe and reliable.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be with Ken for eight years, and the amount of experience he has is invaluable. It’s great to have him in my bunker.
“Ken has been racing cars for over 60 years, and he tells me about the golden days of the 5000 era in the 70s, and it’s exciting because this could be the start of a new golden era of motorsport in Australian and New Zealand.”
“I’ve been looking after Tom since he was 16. I’ve seen him drive Formula Fords, Toyota 86, SuperTourers, older F5000s and it doesn’t matter what he is in, he is very quick at what he does,” said Ken Smith.
“In the last two years, he has been driving a lot of different stuff, but whatever he is in, he is professional and very fast. I rate him highly.
“S5000 is really the perfect place for Tom to be right now. Regardless of whether you want to be a saloon car driver or you want to race open wheelers overseas, there are so many things that S5000 is going to be able to prepare you for – big horsepower, low downforce, race craft – the whole lot.
“I really want other Kiwis to get involved. This is going to be a magical class, and I reckon in the next few months, you are going to see a lot more people from New Zealand driving them.
“The old Formula 5000 cars were fabulous, but they are horrible dangerous. This is a modern car and it is going to teach kids to drive properly. I tested the original one at Pukekohe, and that was great to drive, and this one is even better with a lot of power and that mindfulness that you are in a safe car.”
“It’s great to have Kiwi talent Tom Alexander onboard for the S5000 opener at Sandown next week,” said Adam Gotch.
“Tom will be a great fit to partner John Martin at AGI Sport and we look forward to taking it to our rivals in what should be a very exciting launch for this new category.
“The crew at AGI Sport are now busy preparing the second chassis from our Sydney workshop for Tom with both cars heading down to Phillip Island next Tuesday for the final pre-season test day on the 18th before travelling up to Sandown the following day to setup for the inaugural S5000 race meeting on the 20th-22nd September. We can’t wait!.”