Thomas Randle has high hopes of a successful weekend in the S5000 series at the Australian Grand Prix, after an impressive test session yesterday.
The 23 year-old gave himself and the car a final systems check at Winton before the opening round of the VHT Australian S5000 championship at Albert Park.
Randle was joined in the test session by Formula One royalty – with former Ferrari veteran Rubens Barrichello and 2005 Albert Park GP winner Giancarlo Fisichella joining the S5000 grid across the weekend.
“It was a lot of fun to get back in the car and to be on the pace straight from the start was encouraging,” Randle said.
“To be sharing the track with some ex Formula One superstars was very cool – I even got to show Rubens and Giancarlo around the Winton track in a hire car beforehand which was a real buzz.”
Barrichello, a veteran of 322 Grand Prix races, has struck up an unlikely friendship with Randle – which included checking in constantly on the young racer across the past month as he battled cancer.
“Rubens has been great with me this year,” Randle explained.
“Even last night after the test he was keen to have dinner and go over some data – unfortunately I had to turn him down because we had to drop the race car off at Albert Park – I promise I’ll take him up on his offer on Sunday night!”
It’s a breakout weekend for the fledgling S5000 series – playing on the undercard to the opening Formula One race of the year – with their best field in history.
Joining Barrichelo, Fisichella and Randle on the all-star grid, is Williams test and reserve driver Jack Aitken, plus the likes of reigning Bathurst 1000 winner Alex Premat, and US based Australian racer James Davison.
“I just can’t wait to get out on track tomorrow, to drive out of pitlane at Albert Park in such a beast of a car, with such a cool field around me, will be a pinch me moment,” Randle said.
“And I think everyone will be super keen on Sunday – to win that feature race – it’ll be sheep stations to stand on the top step of the Grand Prix podium, so expect fireworks!”
“This all couldn’t have been possible without the awesome support my family and I have received from Form 700, Alabar, ACT Fence Hire, DeVilbiss and Global Machinery – they are helping make my dream come true!”
The S5000 field will hit the track tomorrow at Albert Park for a practice and qualifying session, before three races across the weekend for the inaugural Alan Jones Cup – highlighted by Sunday’s feature race.
Practice 1: Thursday 10:30
Qualifying: Thursday 15:10
Qualifying Race 1: Friday 10:50 (13 Laps)
Qualifying Race 2: Saturday 10:10 (11 Laps)
Feature Race: Sunday 11:40 (11 Laps)