The alliance between the Australian Formula Ford Series and the world renowned Mazda Road to Indy ladder system in the US has been extended by a further two years beyond 2017.
Already two years into a three year agreement, both parties were happy with the relationship and the outcomes it has produced to warrant an extension on the agreement which now runs to the end of the 2019 season.
The alliance offers the winner of the Australian Formula Ford Series a test in a USF2000 car as well as a financial incentive to compete in this first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy Series.
The Australian Formula Ford Series is recognised as an official feeder series to the Mazda Road to Indy pathway. As part of this, the winner of the Australian Formula Ford Series will be invited to compete in a USF2000 Scholarship Shootout event with the winner receiving a USD200,000 scholarships to race in the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda series.
“Our relationship with the Road to Indy programme has added a lot of value to our competitors. Not only does the winner of the Australian Formula Ford Series receive one of the best prizes available to junior level drivers in Australia but provides a cost effective and well defined pathway to professional ranks.”, said Formula Ford Association Chairman, John Van Leeuwen.
As the recognised pathway to race Indy cars, the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system rewards category champions with a scholarship to progress to the next level of racing in the ladder.
“There is no hiding that the kids that leave Australian shores have to pay to race in order to climb the ranks to be considered for professional drives which comes at considerable cost. The advantage of the Mazda Road to Indy programme is that it has been proven to be a more cost effective and defined pathway than other European based categories and we are glad to see that Australians are committing to the series.”, said Van Leeuwen.
In 2016, two Australians in Jordan Lloyd and Anthony Martin will contest the USF2000 series, both of whom have Formula Ford experience with Jordan placing 2nd in the 2014 Australian Series and Anthony the 2013 West Australian Series champion.
Australians have proven their ability in the series with Mathew Brabham winning the 2012 championship and progressing up the ladder to now have the opportunity to race in the 2016 Indianapolis 500.
This alliance extension cements the Australian Formula Ford Series as an internationally recognised development series.
“Since taking over the management of the Australian Formula Ford Series in 2014, the Formula Ford Association has worked hard to keep the category alive in a challenging motorsport environment. We have overcome some major obstacles to keep the opportunity alive for those seeking to develop motor racing careers and have been buoyed by the strong response we have had. Many of our graduates have progressed to other categories both in Australia and internationally. Our focus has solely been on keeping the costs down and the racing fierce and the facts don’t lie. We have had the highest participation rate of any open wheeler national category in Australia since 2014. We have reduced the costs of racing by 35%-40% on previous regimes and have not been scared to invest in the series to keep the opportunities alive. This agreement extension gives us the confidence that we are doing the right thing for our competitors which will continue well into the future.”, said John Van Leeuwen.
With the six round 2016 Australian Formula Ford Series kicking off on the 1 April at Sandown, the series is set for another big year.