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Thomas Randle took the rookie honours at the Zandvoort Masters of F3 last weekend (20/21 August) as he competed in FIA European F3 machinery for the first time.

The Australian, who is very much still in title contention heading into the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship season finale, was one of four drivers who have competed in British F3 this year to race in the prestigious Masters event at the Dutch circuit.

“It was really good. It was a steep learning curve and a bit of an eye-opener but we had no big expectations going into the weekend,” said Randle who competed for Double R Racing. He continued: “The competition was through the roof and you are up against some of the best drivers in Europe so it is a big challenge. By the end of the weekend we had stepped up though and to finish as the top rookie was awesome.”

Randle was joined by Carlin racers Colton Herta and Ameya Vaidyanathan, whilst Harrison Scott, who has competed in BRDC British F3 with HHC Motorsport, received a late call-up to replace British F3 race-winner Nikita Mazepin, who was ill, at Hitech GP. Randle commented: “It was good to have Harrison in the field as he is always a good target. To finish just above him was good. I was happy with my pace by the final race and I was glad to finish both races and enjoy a bit of consistency.”

The result was all the more impressive given that Randle hadn’t tested prior to the event, his only experience in an FIA European F3 car before that coming back in 2015. “We didn’t have any testing and Double R hadn’t raced the car since Macau last year. All the other teams had been to Zandvoort before and heading into qualifying we had only done 20 laps,” the 20-year-old commented.

Randle finished the second race of the weekend in 11th, one place ahead of Scott in 12th with Herta and Vaidyanathan 13th and 15th respectively. Double R Racing boss, Anthony Hieatt, was impressed with Randle’s performance, stating: “We’re very pleased with how Thomas performed throughout the weekend, he did a very good job on his first time out in the FIA-spec Dallara. It was very much a case of being in at the deep end without much in the way of testing, but he approached the weekend very professionally and to come away as the top rookie was a great result.”

After his Zandvoort experience, the focus is very much back on to the BRDC British F3 title fight now for Randle, as he sits third in the overall standings 51 points adrift of championship leader Ricky Collard. “It was good to get away and have a weekend with relatively little pressure. There was no expectation on me so I was just trying to improve but now the focus is back on British F3. I am really looking forward to Donington Park now!”

The final round of the 2016 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship partnered by Duo takes place at Donington Park on September 10/11.

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