BRING ON THE BEND


Thomas Randle is full of optimism as he heads for South Australia’s Tailem Bend ahead of this weekend’s eighth round of the 2022 Supercars Championship.


After a difficult maiden full-time season in the sport’s main category, Randle is returning to a circuit he raced on last year as a Wildcard, and more recently tested on – which gives him confidence of a good showing.


“We had a really positive test day there three weeks ago and we showed signs of improvement the following weekend at Townsville,” Randle said.


“And I’m going there with half a year’s experience in the main game, so I hope it’s a much better showing.”


Randle is coming off one of his stronger showings of the season last start at the prestigious Townsville 500.


He qualified for his first Top Ten Shootout on the Sunday, then had the opportunity to lead his first main game solo race in the first stint.


Randle says it was a major step in the right direction.


“Our qualifying is getting better every round , along with this I need to continue improving on my race pace – and that will again be our focus this weekend at the Bend,” Randle said.


“It’s a circuit I really like and it’s where we made our debut as a Wildcard in 2019 and also ran as a wildcard last year and scored a top ten – so that’s where my goal is to be this weekend.”


Randle sits 21st in the standings as the sport gears up for the second half of the season – with the biggest races remaining, including the Bathurst 1000, the COVID comeback of the Adelaide 500 and Gold Coast 600 street races, and also the series’ return to New Zealand.


“The first half of the season hasn’t been anywhere near where I have wanted it to be – anyone who knows me will know that I’m not happy unless we’re up the front of the field,” Randle confided.


“So, I really want to push the second half of the season – as a team we want better qualifying, we want better results, we want to be in the top ten – and that’s our focus.”


Tailem Bend will be a rapid fire weekend for the Supercars field – with the return of the two-day SuperSprint format set to test teams.


Practice, qualifying and race one will be crammed into Saturday before a pair of qualifying sessions and races on Sunday.


“We have to hit the ground running – and that’s the beauty of what we learnt at the Bend with our test earlier this month,” Randle said.


“If the car isn’t quick out of the truck in opening practice on Saturday, you’re really left chasing your tail when you should be getting set for qualifying – so it’s simply crucial to be on the ball from lap one.


“I want this to be a great weekend for our Tickford crew, plus all of our sponsors – I’m so lucky to have Castrol and BP backing me, plus Herzog Steel, ACT Fence Hire, Infinium Advisory, Gerald Slaven and DeVilbiss, who have been so good to me.


“I hope I can repay all our supporters with a great run.”


Opening practice begins at Tailem Bend on Saturday morning with Races 21, 22 and 23 of the Championship across the weekend.


All of the action is live on Fox Sports.


Schedule (times in ACST): Practice 1 - Sat 9:45 Practice 2 - Sat 11:35 Three Part Qualifying Race 21 – Sat 13:30 Race 21 (24 laps) – Sat 16:15 Qualifying Race 22 – Sun 9:35 Qualifying Race 23 – Sun 9:55 Race 22 (24 laps) – Sun 12:30 Race 23 (24 laps) – Sun 15:40