BRDC Rising Star Thomas Randle has enjoyed a comprehensive two-day test driving a Comtec Racing Formula V8 3.5 (formerly Formula Renault 3.5) at Spain's Circuit de Valencia earlier this week.
Randle's test was in preparation for his debut in the high-speed open wheel championship, which will take place at Spain's Jerez Circuit during the weekend of October 28-30.
During the course of the two-day program, Randle completed over 100 laps, performed practice starts and completed pit stop simulations, lapping the 4.070k circuit over six seconds faster than he did while driving a FIA European Formula 3 specification car at the same venue late last year.
"Driving the car was just phenomenal and the power was incredible, it just keeps on accelerating. It was very similar to the feeling I got from the SAAB Sports Sedan. My head was getting lifted up from the wind I was going that fast; around 280-kph on the approach to Turn 1. The grip on new tyres was unbelievable and I was reaching 215-kph minimum speed through the first corner which felt incredible, and pulling almost 3Gs laterally. I did take some time getting used to how quickly I could apply the throttle and had a few wheel-spin moments here and there.
"I felt I acclimatised to the speed of the car fairly quickly. The main thing I worked on was trying to slow everything down in my brain when everything was actually happening so quickly. The carbon brakes were another area I had to get used to as the first two laps you have virtually no brakes at all until they warm up, but once they have heat in them they're very aggressive and the braking distances very short. It was great to be back at Valencia, a track which I already have the knowledge of, and I was running six seconds a lap faster than the times I did in there in F3. My fastest lap in the F3 was 1:25.7 and I did a 1:19.7 in this car, completing around 100 laps over the two days.
"I feel very fortunate to have been given this amazing opportunity by Comtec Racing. It is easily the fastest and best race car I have ever driven with cornering speeds way in excess of anything I've ever experienced. Doing my first pit stops and starts was fun and using DRS was a new experience. I am so thankful to Josh Webb from Webb Performance for putting together a great training regime for me and I was able to last both days with little physical issue. I'm really looking forward to Jerez and hoping to continue learning more and more about the car and its capabilities, and also establishing just how close we really are to the pace of the competition."
Phil Blow (Team Manager, Comtec Racing); "Thomas settled in really well and we covered off a lot of things such as pit stops and practice starts and he took everything in his stride. Within only a hand full of laps he was straight down to very competitive times, so we're all really looking forward to Jerez."