BRDC Rising Star Randle experienced his first taste of Bathurst’s Mount Panorama Circuit on the weekend having never previously driven there, when the Dunlop Super2 Series took to the mountain for the penultimate round of this year’s championship.
Opening practice went well for Randle in what was his first ever outing on the circuit, with the track condition fully wet and the 22-year-old experiencing his maiden run on the Dunlop wet weather tyre. Midway through the session, Randle set a benchmark time over two seconds faster than the next competitor, only to strike slower traffic on his final two flying laps after a red flag period, resulting in the fifth fastest time in the 22-car field.
Practice two was hindered by two lengthy red flag periods meaning Randle was only able to achieve three flying laps in the dry prior to qualifying, which saw Randle placing his Skye Sands Tickford Racing FG-X Falcon in 11th spot to start Saturday’s 41-lap, 250km Race.
“I was very happy with how our pace was in the wet,” said Randle.
“I kind of wanted it to stay wet for the rest of the weekend after that session, as going into qualifying I had only completed three flying laps in the dry around this place. I was reasonably happy with P11, as a top ten start would have felt like a win to me. To be only one second off the pace of the more experienced guys up front was also very satisfying.”
As the race got underway on Saturday, Randle made a terrific start to gain one position going into turn one, and another one heading into turn two. When the first Safety Car came out on lap five, Randle headed into the pits for fuel, and unfortunately on the restart lost a place heading up into the cutting. The Safety Car made a reappearance on lap nine and Randle came back into the pits for the mandatory tyre change. Frustratingly, a controversial officiating error during the tyre change lead to Randle being hit with a pit lane drive through penalty. The stewards believing that the team personnel and tyre changing equipment were not fully behind the red line before he was released. However, in that stop Randle did not take fuel onboard, and thus the rule technically should not have applied. Resultantly, Randle dropped to 16th place after running in eighth early on but circulating in clear air he was able to set consecutive fastest laps of the race and managed to gain a number of spots. A final late-race Safety Car period resulted in chaos for a couple of front-runners, allowing Randle to move up to ultimately finish in eighth place.
“Firstly, I have just to thank the team for a mega car this weekend,” said Randle.
“My goal was to just keep building up to it every session and I think we achieved that. At times in the race my engineer was telling me I was the fastest car on the track. Sadly, it really was a case of ‘what could have been’ without that drive through penalty which cost me over 33 seconds of track time. I think we had a great shot at finishing in the top five - maybe even a snatching a podium - on my debut at Bathurst, but in saying that I am still happy to come away with eighth in the race and to move up in the championship as well. Other than the result, it felt pretty awesome to race a Supercar around the mountain and it was very also great to have DeVilbiss come on board for the weekend as well.”
Race 1: 8th
The final round of the Dunlop Super2 Series will be a double header that takes place on the streets of Newcastle on the 23-25 of November.