Fresh from a competitive debut showing at Jerez last weekend BRDC Rising Star Thomas Randle will contest this weekend's final round of the Formula V8 3.5 (formerly Formula Renault 3.5) championship at Spain's Barcelona circuit; the venue of the annual Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix.
In front of a large crowd of over 36,000 spectators Randle came to grips with the 540-horsepower Dallara machine during his debut weekend, and despite having never seen the 4.42k Jerez circuit he whittled his times down with each and every outing, impressing the team sufficiently enough to be offered the chance to contest the final round of the highly-competitive nine round championship.
In both qualifying sessions the 20-year-old Australian recorded times just fractionally slower than 2016 race winners Tom Dillman and Roy Nissany; the latter scoring back-to-back wins at Silverstone in July, while in Sunday's 40-minute race - held in hot and sunny conditions - the former Australian Formula Ford champion chased down a pack of cars running in close formation, despite having to take evasive action to dodge a stalled car at the start.
Said Randle, "What an unbelievable weekend. I can't thank the Comtec boys enough, and also everybody who helped bring this deal together. Jerez hosted the Spanish Grand Prix between 1985 and 1990 and to race on a circuit with so much history was amazing. It was tough going, I have to be honest - because I was the only driver who had not previously driven at the circuit and many of my competitors had already experienced driving the Formula V8 3.5 car there.
"I was really happy with how much progress I made despite having just two practice sessions to get acclimatised to the car and circuit, and I was more than happy to record a time just on 1.4s away from the pole time during Sunday morning's session. The race was long and tough, but after misjudging the car on an early heavy fuel load during Saturday's first race I was determined to make it through to the end. It was hot going and the longest race I've ever driven in, but I chased as hard I as a could to finish within sight of the pack in front of me, which was really satisfying. The crowd there were just so into the racing and I was mobbed the minute I got out of the car by people wanting a picture and an autograph. That was a huge surprise and just shows how into open wheel racing these people really are.
"To be offered the chance to compete again at this weekend's final round at Barcelona is fantastic, and while I will yet again have to learn a new circuit I'm sure what I experienced last weekend will assist with the acclimatisation. The car's are amazing to drive, so fast and with so much aero grip and the Barcelona layout looks like it will be very challenging. I can't wait to get there."
Phil Blow (Team Manager, Comtec Racing); "Thomas is the real deal. His performance over the weekend while up against drivers who have been racing these cars all year was exceptional. He's a fast learner, makes no excuses and just gets on with things, and he could be a genuine challenger in this series with more miles. On the back of what he achieved last weekend at Jerez we are delighted to have him back on board for this weekend's final championship event, while longer term we would love to have him join out operation for a proper tilt at the championship."