The qualifying and race format for the S5000 Series' 2019 historic opening rounds at Sandown Raceway and The Bend Motorsport Park have been confirmed.
For both Shannons Nationals rounds, the format will feature a standard qualifying session and two extra qualifying heats with the results to set the grid for the category’s main race.
Interestingly, the two qualifying heats, which will be races themselves, will include a partial grid reversal and category manager Chris Lambden believes it will give the fans plenty of entertainment as drivers look for the best starting place.
“We want entertaining racing all weekend, so the idea is that for the Main Race, the person on pole has to earn it – by racing and passing other cars,” Lambden said.
“This will certainly mix things up during the two Qualifying Heats – much like the Top 8 reversals in international F2 and F3 do – and the reward for qualifying fastest is the right to pick first.
“Points from qualifying, plus the two qualifying heats will determine the grid for the main race – which in a full series will earn the majority of the points.
“I’m a fan of World Speedway, where the riders get to select their starting gates for the finals based on their performance in the heats. It adds a bit of theatre to it all and a reward for performance. And in our case, whoever gets pole for the main race will certainly have earned it, by needing to pass a few cars along the way.
“It should provide some action and excitement on the way to Sunday's main race. It’s what we’re planning to do for next year’s championship series, and it’s a great opportunity to try it out.”
After the initial qualifying session, the fastest driver will then be the first to choose where they start on the grid for the event’s first qualifying race.
This driver will then start the second qualifying heat at the back of the grid. The second fastest driver will then select their position and so forth until the full grid is determined.
Only the top 75 per cent of qualifiers will be involved with the reversal process, with the remaining 25 per cent starting where they qualified in the first heat and at the back or where they finished the first race.
With many big names already named for the new series, including Formula 1 great Rubens Barrichello and Australian Indy 500 competitor Matthew Brabham, confirmed driver John Martin was excited for the unique qualifying heats.
"The qualifying races are sure going to add an extra layer of excitement and unknown to the weekend," Martin said.
“It’s going to make for an interesting choice. If I’m quickest in qualifying, do I take grid one, hopefully lock in a win, then do my best to charge through from near the back? Or go halfway for both and try and pick up as many spots as I can.
“Whatever the case, it’s going to be an intriguing pair of qualifying heats.
“And, thankfully, it’s just about sorting the grid for the main race, so even if someone gets it wrong in the Heats, there’s every chance of making amends in the big race.”
The new series begins as part of the Shannons Nationals at Sandown Raceway on 20 - 22 September.
For those able to make it to Sandown, tickets are now on sale with 10 per cent of all sales going to charity partner Very Special Kids.
S5000 has been confirmed as part of an expanded Shannons Nationals live television coverage on SBS, including carsales TCR Australia Series.