After a torrid weekend at the Newcastle East Street Circuit, claiming a DNF in race one and race two being called a non-event, Tickford Racing’s Dunlop Super2 Series rookie Thomas Randle scored the Mike Kable Young Gun Award for 2018. Randle, 22, turned his hand to Supercars this year after a stint in the United Kingdom racing junior open-wheelers. Running in a single Tickford Super2 Falcon, Randle’s season included top-three race finishes at Barbagallo and Sandown. The Barbagallo weekend also included a maiden ARMOR ALL Pole Position and round podium.
He ended the season 11th, having bounced back from a disastrous opener in Adelaide, where steering failure put him into the Turn 8 wall and out of the weekend. The Young Gun Award, which was implemented in 1999, recognises an outstanding first-year Supercars driver under 30 years of age. Other eligible drivers this year were main game racer Richie Stanaway, James Golding, Anton DePasquale, Jack LeBrocq and Randle’s Super2 rivals Zane Goddard, Brenton Grove, Jordan Boys and Dominic Storey. Previous winners include Marcos Ambrose (2001), Mark Winterbottom ('03), James Courtney ('06), Chaz Mostert ('11) and Scott McLaughlin ('13).
Randle accepted the award, which is voted on by the media and comes with a $15,000 prize cheque, at Monday night’s Supercars Gala in Sydney. “I don’t know what to say. My heart is racing. I didn’t really expect this,” he said to host Jessica Yates. “I’ve got to thank Tickford Racing, what a phenomenal job. I didn’t know how the year was going to go, this time last year I didn’t know what I was going to be doing.
“My manager said, ‘what would you say if I told you Tim Edwards wanted you to drive for him?’ It’s been an awesome year. I’ve learnt heaps. I’m from an open-wheeler background so there’s a lot of big differences. Sitting on the right-hand-side of the car and learning the tyre, which is something different, were big things. Five out of the seven tracks were brand new to me and the last time I’d raced at the others I was in an open-wheeler. Just trying to understand the car, it’s such a different beast and I really loved working with the team. I’ve got to thank my boys. I’m looking forward to coming back next year, hopefully.”