Twenty-five days ago he was having his final day of chemotherapy.
It made success yesterday in the opening round of the S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship all the more sweeter for rising star Thomas Randle.
And no one was more pleasantly surprised than Randle himself, after the most difficult period of his young life.
“I’m still pinching myself to be perfectly honest,” Randle said the day after his final heat and round win.
“Three or four weeks ago – getting back in the car was the thing that was driving me – although three weeks ago I wouldn’t have even been able to climb into the car!”
Randle had to undergo two cycles of chemotherapy across Christmas and New Year – with his final session on New Year’s Day.
It was always his ambition to be on the grid when the S5000 series began at Symmons Plains in Tasmania, but he was never quite sure if he’d be healthy enough to race.
“I was looking and feeling like a beetroot after Race One on Monday when it was a bit hotter,” Randle laughed.
“Thankfully it was a bit cooler yesterday and I was able to get through in one piece!
“The S5000 machines are very physical, there’s no power steering, they weigh 900-950 kilograms, and then you add the fact that Symmons Plains is an extremely busy circuit – there’s just no downtime at all.
“My arms were hanging on for dear life, especially with no safety car in the final race.”
The 2020 Super2 champion admitted much of his fitness base – which was at its peak last October for the Bathurst 1000 – had been erased following the significant abdominal surgery he had to endure in November, and chemotherapy which followed.
”It was just great to be back in the car, and to get pole position and win the feature race was more than I ever could have dreamt of,” Randle said.
“Everything I’ve been through since my cancer diagnosis this time in January last year, has taught me one thing – and that’s how much I love this sport and how I want to make it my career.
“I just want to thank my brilliant family and friends, my BRM team who were awesome all weekend, and my supporters – Skye Sands, Form 700, Alabar, ACT Fence Hire, DeVilbiss and Pilatus who continue to help us get to the track.”
Randle will take his 11-point lead in the Australian Drivers’ Championship to the second round of the series, at Phillip Island on February 19-21.