19 November 2021 | General

Percat samples ‘Seriously Impressive’ S5000 power in Sydney test

SUPERCARS star Nick Percat returned to his open-wheel roots on Thursday evening as he sampled a 560-horsepower S5000 racer for the first time.

Percat, a former Australian Formula Ford Champion, completed 43 laps of the 3.9km Sydney Motorsport Park circuit during a four-hour ‘open track’ testing session for competitors contesting the Shannons S5000 Tasman Series, which starts today.

While Percat isn’t competing in the series, the opportunity to get his first laps in Australia’s newest open wheel category came via Sydney-based team Volante Rosso Racing, who will enter the S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship in 2022.

With regular driver – and Percat’s Gold Coast neighbour – Josh Hunt stuck in Queensland due to the current border restrictions, the team drafted the Brad Jones Racing driver in to aid their process of getting up to speed before they attack the Gold Star title next year.

Running only on old tyres while the Tasman Series field readied for this weekend on fresher rubber, Percat’s best of 1m26.19s was still on the pace relative to seasoned S5000 competitors around him.

Reigning S5000 Australian Drivers’ Champion Joey Mawson topped the four-hours of pre-event testing on Thursday night.

His 1m23.9831s flyer came late in the evening and was only three-tenths slower than his pole-winning effort at the Sydney round of the championship back in April this year.

Mawson was a full second quicker than everyone else in testing, however the next eight cars were split by just 0.8 seconds.

Luis Leeds, being run by AGI Sport this weekend, was second and TCR Australia ace Aaron Cameron an impressive third.

Nathan Herne was fourth while ex-F1 driver Spaniard Roberto Merhi’s S5000 debut saw him finish fifth. His international teammate Yoshiaki Katayama was eighth – 0.5 seconds behind – with the pair split by James Golding and Jordan Boys.

Tim Macrow was ninth, Percat 10th, Ben Bargwanna 11th and Blake Purdie 12th.

Cooper Webster turned his first laps for the all new Versa Motorsport team, however was not timed.

NICK PERCAT – Volante Rosso Rogers AF01/v8

“My first reaction was ‘Holy…’! when it came on and the power was there, it was seriously impressive,” Percat said.

“I think the smile would have been big. No window in front of me.. everything feels way faster. The speeds aren’t massively different but it feels like I’m doing 400, so it’s very cool.

“Driving them, it’s really fun. I get the category now: It’s not trying to be big aero, F3 style open wheeler. It’s in it’s own little category on its own when you can manhandle them and drive them sideways, have a bit of fun in the middle of the corner with the power and the tyre and get away with it. It rewards the driving style where you can attack and let the car move around under you.

(On running with Volante Rosso Racing)

“Credit to the team and Josh (Hunt). They’re trusting me with their car, touch wood hopefully I’m a safe pair of hands for them.

“It’s great to have the car running tonight. They’re not running the Tasman Series, but it’s good to have the car out there and hopefully get a bit of interest around what they are doing.

“They’re going to run the car in the actual series next year. It’s a pleasure to rock up and drive someone else’s car, there was no ‘hey, just go easy’, it was ‘go and ring its neck’ and give us some feedback.

“Hopefully we can help build their program and get some good steerers in them next year.”