Thomas Randle is preparing for the biggest weekend of his life at the 2020 Super Cheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
Not only is he set to race in what looms as the final round of the Super2 season in which he leads the championship, but he’ll also race in his second Bathurst 1000 – where he and his Holden teammate Nick Percat will be one of the lead pairings.
“Broadly, the opportunity that is there for me to go and do double duties at Mount Panorama is just an awesome thing,” Randle said as he prepares for the biggest weekend in Australian motorsport.
“Just the fact that we can go racing after a year that we’ve all lived through is amazing really – it’s been a challenging year for everyone.”
“And for the guys at Matt White Racing in particular, they’ve all had to go and serve a two week quarantine period in Darwin just so we can run in Super2 – that’s seriously amazing and I’ve got to thank them for their dedication.”
Just to make the grid at Bathurst has been a three month investment for Randle – who relocated to Queensland after the most recent Super2 event in Sydney, rather than return to Melbourne which has been under rolling Stage-4 lockdown restrictions.
“Going to Queensland was the smartest move I could have made and it’s ensured I’ll be in the best shape possible for the event,” Randle explained.
“I did it purely to protect my co-driver role for the 1000, but the move allowed me to continue my preparation – I could swim, I could ride, I could go to the gym and race Rusty's Bentley GT3 car at Tailem Bend – which in retrospect were all things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I’d gone home to Melbourne.”
The sheer workload ahead for Randle is daunting – with on-track commitments across all four days of the event in both the BJR Commodore in the Bathurst 1000, and his MWM prepared Skye Sands Nissan Altima in the Super2 series.
Known as doing “double duties”, Randle is well aware he’ll have more laps and more pressure around Mount Panorama than ever before.
“Last year was my first experience doing Super2 and co driving, and last year was my first Bathurst 1000 – so at least now I know what I’m in for,” Randle explained.
“When I think back to this time last year, I am so much better prepared for what’s to come, sure there is pressure – but opportunities like these are what we race for.”
Before arriving at Mount Panorama, the past week for the 24 year-old has been spent based in Albury, in New South Wales, preparing for the race with the Brad Jones Racing squad.
There’s been extensive pre-brief meetings, driver-change practice, and the final preparations for the weekend that means the most to Brad Jones and his team.
“There is a real buzz around the BJR crew – I mean look at the results so far this season, they’ve had race wins, pole positions, front-row lockouts, Nick’s form has been as good as he’s ever had, the team is in form, so there is genuine optimism about what’s ahead,” Randle said.
“We’re not going there to finish second, we want to win the thing – and that’s not underestimating our competition, we know we have to nail everything, the pit stops have to be flawless, the strategy has to be sound, Nick and I have to be at our best, and you need a slice of luck to go your way – but the team has thrown the kitchen sink at it to be the best prepared we could possibly be.”
For the moment, the weekend looms as the finale of the Super2 series, which Randle holds the lead of in the COVID shortened championship.
And on Sunday, the Bathurst 1000 will present the greatest prize in Australian motorsport.