Thomas Randle lived out a boyhood dream across the Australian Formula One Grand Prix weekend, when two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso drove his Supercar.
His 26th birthday will be one he remembers fondly – after the opportunity arose for the Alpine Formula One driver to have a steer of his Ford Mustang during GP weekend.
“I went all fanboy, I won’t lie – it was a fantastic opportunity and something I’ll remember forever,” Randle said.
“He’s a childhood hero of mine growing up – back in 2006 I was over in the Fangio grandstand cheering for him when he won this race, so to meet him, and then let him drive my car, and sit alongside was a very, very cool experience!
“I was actually pleasantly surprised how interested he was in our cars, how many questions he asked before his drive and then how impressive he was when I went with him around Albert Park – it is certainly a different beast to what he’s used to racing here!
“I’ll get a picture stuck in a frame of the two of us and it’ll go straight to the pool room!”
The Alonso drive was the high point for Randle on a weekend to savour for Australian motorsport, with record sell-out crowds flocking to Albert Park across the event.
Unfortunately for Randle it was a difficult weekend on the track in his Castrol backed Ford Mustang – with one exception.
“It was a difficult weekend results wise and unfortunately we didn’t get anything for the speed we showed out there,” Randle said.
“Qualifying for Sunday’s race was the clear highlight – we landed on the second row of the grid which was great to be up the pointy end for the main race with so many eyeballs watching us.”
But Randle’s race on Sunday would last just a matter of laps – a lengthy pit stop and then a steering issue ending his weekend early.
His four races delivered finishes 21st, 18th, 11th and the Sunday DNF.
It leaves Randle 23rd in the championship standings after three events of his rookie campaign.
“Anyone who knows me will know I’m not doing cartwheels over the results we’ve achieved so far – of course I wish they were better,” Randle said.
“But I’m staying optimistic, my team is staying optimistic – our pace is there – our qualifying at Albert Park showed that, so hopefully some luck and some good results can come.
“Everyone in our team is working their backsides off to get better – so fingers crossed that can come in Perth.”
The Supercars next head west for the Perth SuperNight – which begins at Wanneroo Raceway on April 30.
“It’s been too long since the sport has been able to head to WA – so I know there’s a lot of interest and anticipation for Round 4,” Randle said.
“Wanneroo Raceway has been a happy hunting ground for me in the past, its home to my first pole position and podium in Super2, so I am very much excited to get back there this weekend and show everyone what we can do!
Again, I’d just like to thank my loyal team who stick by me – Castrol and BP, plus Herzog Steel, ACT Fence Hire, Infinium Advisory, Gerald Slaven and DeVilbiss – nothing would give me more joy than to deliver them a great result soon.”
Schedule (Times in AEST):
Practice 1: Sat 12:20pm
Practice 2: Sat 2:15pm
Three Part Qualifying Race 10: Sat 4:40pm
Race 10 (46 Laps): Sat 8:40pm
Qualifying Race 11: Sun 11:20am
Qualifying Race 12: Sun 11:42am
Race 11 (46 Laps): Sun 2:05pm
Race 12 (46 Laps): Sun 5:45pm