2015 CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 Championship runner-up Thomas Randle is aiming to go one better this year, as he chases down the lead of the British Formula 3 Championship with a handful of races remaining.
It was a case of better late than never for Randle, as he only secured his British Formula 3 drive with Douglas Motorsport in February. Days later after the signing, Randle and a suitcase containing his entire life made the move to Britain.
“From the moment I signed the contract to when I actually left Australia, it was only sort of three or four days. It was a big rush getting everything ready,” Randle said.
“By the time I got onto the plane, it was sort of like ‘Woah’! I just left all my family back home, had a suitcase of my life in it. Didn’t really come to terms that I was going to be over there for four months straight on my own.”
Despite a difficult start to his campaign, improved results soon followed. Three 2nd places, one third place, one race win and one pole position later, Randle now finds himself in 2nd place in the drivers’ standings behind Ricky Collard.
“Now when I’ve got some good results on the board, yeah definitely it helps with confidence,” Randle said.
“It makes you think you should be here. This is what you should be doing. Where we are in the championship, we’re in a really good spot to have a crack at the championship lead. I definitely think it’s a confidence boost.”
Despite just missing out on the Australian Formula 4 Championship last year in a thrilling battle between he and eventual winner Jordan Lloyd, Randle capped off his year by dominating the final round around the streets of Homebush.
Days later, Randle then sampled a Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 at Phillip Island. The high didn’t stop there, with Randle then jetting to Spain to test a European Formula 3 car.
“Straight after Homebush, I actually got to test a Mercedes SLS AMG at Phillip Island which was mega,” Randle said.
“I was talking to the guys at T-Sport and then managed to go over to do the two-day [European Formula 3] test. It was unbelievable. Went out of the pit lane thinking ‘Holy crap, this is real’. I’d been watching European Formula 3 for god knows how many years, and it’s always been something I’d wanted to do.
“Going out of that pit lane knowing that you’re on track with twenty or so FIA F3s and you’re in one of them, it’s one of the best feelings.”
While the European Formula 3 test was a thrilling experience, committing to a full season was going to be a costly exercise. While the test fuelled Randle’s passion more so than ever, Randle did not lock in a drive for 2016 until February.
“Since I was seven years old racing has been my passion,” Randle said.
“Everyday I think about racing. It’s 98% what I think about. At the start of the year when I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing, it sort of hit and I was a bit depressed to be honest that I didn’t think I’d be racing something.
“Now that I am, I’m very lucky to be doing it. But unfortunately, the funds is what sort of stops it. I’m extremely committed, everyday I’m trying to train, sim work, I just want to win. I just want to make it overseas as a professional racing driver.”
Despite the difficulties of trying to make a career racing overseas as an Australian, Randle recommends any aspiring young Australian driver to try it while they have the chance.
“I think do it. For starters build a reputation in Australia, prove yourself here, prove that you are capable of making it overseas,” Randle said.
“If you’ve got the funding do it, go overseas. That’s for me the best thing I could have done in my career. I think for me going from Australian F4 to British F3 was the best step.
“I’m just saying if you come from Australia in open-wheelers and you were competitive, I think you’ve got a pretty good shot. Be in the best space of mind, have the confidence, enjoy yourself and it’s definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The next round of the British Formula 3 Championship takes place at the legendary Spa Francorchamps in Belgium on July 8–9.