Thomas Randle left Townsville content after his most promising weekend as a full timer in the Supercars Championships.
Randle proved the surprise packet of Sunday’s Townsville 500 – qualifying for his first Top Ten Shootout, and then leading much of the first half of Race 20 of this year’s championship.
After a brutally difficult opening to the season, the 26-year-old felt vindication for one of his better days in the sport, at one of the year’s bigger events.
“Look I was really pleased to just be competitive, and to be up the front was great for the Castrol team and the bloke behind the wheel,” Randle admitted.
“It’s been a rough opening half of the season and we needed a day like Sunday – it was a huge relief when the team radioed through after qualifying to say we’d made the top ten and were bound for the Shootout.
“It was just a shame the track was so dirty in the Shootout which ruined our chance of a good lap – but it was cool to be in it!”
It could have been double delight for Randle, who was just pipped from Saturday’s Shootout – agonisingly missing advancing by 0.07 seconds.
It showed the advances Randle’s Tickford Racing team had made in the preparation for Townsville.
“We tested at Tailem Bend in the week before heading to far north Queensland, and everyone left really positive that we’d found the sweet spot in the Mustang,” Randle said.
“We were optimistic before the weekend, and that confidence should transfer to more events after this weekend – especially next start when we’re back at the Bend at the end of the month.
“It was just really nice to have done a good job and to feel like we were contending – especially at such a big event like the Townsville 500.”
Randle finished Saturday having qualified twelfth, and racing to a 16th placed finish.
He then qualified on Sunday eighth, before posting the tenth quickest time in the Shootout.
Starting from the fifth row of the grid, his Tickford team opted to roll the dice and start the race on super soft tyres – the only car to do so.
It allowed Randle to rocket to the lead of the race.
“I’ll say starting towards the front was huge for us – when you’re buried in the pack, as we have been too much this year, it’s just so hard,” Randle said.
“And then we went with the alternate strategy – it paid off for a while and I won’t lie, it was darn cool to lead the race for so long, however my overall race pace just wasn’t there which is something we are working on for the upcoming rounds.”
Randle ultimately finished the race in 17th.
“After where we’ve been there’s much to be positive about – and now it’s a matter of building on the pace we showed in qualifying – especially on Sunday,” Randle said.
“So, while we ultimately didn’t get the results we wanted – I feel we’re heading in the right direction, and I already can’t wait to get to the Bend next weekend.
“I’d like to thank Castrol and BP for being by my side, plus Herzog Steel, ACT Fence Hire, Infinium Advisory, Gerald Slaven and DeVilbiss – I’m keen to give them a great result to be proud of.”
The Supercars Championship return for round eight at South Australia’s Tailem Bend at the end of July.