Teenager drives new FT 5000 single-seater in Australia
Rising young kiwi driver Liam Lawson spent the first weekend of the school holidays motor racing in Australia, but it wasn't back behind the wheel of the Formula 4 single-seater championship car he's been racing there all year.
instead, Lawson was back to racing a Formula Vee - similar to the car in which he started his motor racing career after he won the SpeedSport Scholarship in 2015.
Raced as an entry-level single-seater car in both New Zealand and Australia, locally known as Formula First, these categories have been the starting place for many now famous race car drivers.
Lawson was invited by an Australian race team to contest the Formula Vee championship racing at Phillip Island, where the Pukekohe teenager was quickly on front-running pace.
But the biggest surprise came on Monday.
While testing at Phillip Island after the weekend's Formula Vee racing, Lawson was invited to drive the new FT5000, a modern, all-new Formula 5000 car.
"I couldn't believe it when they asked me if I'd like to drive it," said Lawson
Powered by a 5-litre Ford V8, the Formula Thunder 5000 is modeled on the cars that raced back in the Tasman Series from 1964-1975.
"It's really, really fast. Astonishing how much power it's got," he said after a 12-lap stint.
"To drive a Formula 5000 car was one of the things on my must do list, but I never thought I'd get to do that at 15! A huge thanks to Chris Lambden for allowing me to get behind the wheel. It's a day I'm never going to forget!"
The FT5000 was certainly a highlight of his trip, but so was the close, side-by-side Formula Vee racing.
Drafting plays a huge part of the racing and race results of often covered by the smallest of margins.
"That kind of racing is so much fun. One lap you're in the lead, next you're last [in the group], then back to the front. Always changing, and always amazing racing," said Lawson.
In the first race of the weekend Lawson was in a four-car lunge at the finish line, fourth by a mere 0.4-seconds behind the winner.
A lead in race two came to nothing when the car stopped with a component failure, which forced Lawson to start from the back of the grid in the final race.
Lawson drove from 15th to the race lead within two laps, got drafted back to 4th towards the end, then back up to 2nd by the chequered flag.
"All in all, it was a totally amazing weekend. I can't thank JRD [Junior Racing Developments] enough for everything they organised for me."
Lawson is currently third in the Australian Formula 4 championship with one round remaining. The grand finale is in three weeks on the Gold Coast street circuit, supporting the V8 Supercars.
Proudly supporting Lawson's Formula 4 campaign is RetroCar.co.nz, along with the Giltrap Group, NZ Childcare Finance, BG World Wheels, Archibalds, Maugers, TACCOC, Cyrus International Cargo, Men at Work, The Porter Group and Showerdome.
Liam Lawson 021 173 3624
Jared Lawson 027 547 7515
Grant McDonald 027 227 3554