The Australian Grand Prix Corporation congratulates one of Australia's brightest young motorsport talents, 20-year-old Thomas Randle on his championship success in the international Toyota Racing Series (TRS).
Formula 1 aspirant Randle last weekend became the first Australian to ever win the hotly contested open wheel title, held over five rounds in five weeks across New Zealand.
Randle, from Narre Warren in Melbourne's south east, headed a pedigree field of 19 young drivers from 12 countries to the title, including Pedro Piquet - son of three-time World Drivers' Champion Nelson Piquet - and drivers from the Red Bull, Ferrari and Force India junior development programs.
TRS is highly regarded as a competitive benchmark for young drivers from around the world. It is the same series that new Williams Martini Racing recruit Lance Stroll triumphed in 2015, while series alumni also includes Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat and Kiwi open wheel ace Mitch Evans.
Randle clinched the series crown in a thrilling climax to the season ending New Zealand Grand Prix at the Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon. It was anything but easy, with the young Victorian fighting back from 15th to fourth - after being pushed wide on the opening corner - in the preliminary race, where he seized crucial points with a last corner, last lap pass on Austrian driver Ferdinand Habsburg.
Heading into the Grand Prix just one point behind Piquet, and one point ahead of Red Bull-backed Dutchman Richard Verschoor, Randle overtook Piquet with what proved to be a decisive move before finishing a calculated third - enough to seal the title by five points over Piquet.
Randle's TRS season was a model of speed and consistency. From 15 starts, the Victory Motor Racing driver recorded seven podiums including two wins, and only once finished outside the top five.
"The TRS is in my opinion one of the best junior single seater championships in the world”, said Randle as he reflected on his success. “This year it was extremely competitive and the standards were very high. At a few of the circuits, all 20 cars were separated by less than one second in qualifying.”
“I'm still pinching myself that I won the series. First of all I have to thank my team Victory Motor Racing, my mechanics Dean Randle and Mo Larsen, my engineer Hargen Pischel and all of my supporters, especially Rusty French and Mike Newbould.”
“Winning this, and being the first Australian to do so is unbelievable to have on my CV, and I have already had numerous emails and messages regarding drives for this season after winning the TRS, so I will look at what will be the best thing for me and what is affordable. At this stage I will be racing in British LMP3, but hopefully I can lock in a single seater drive as well."
En route to the title, Randle also added his name to the prestigious New Zealand Motor Cup, becoming the first Australian to do so in more than 40 years and joining an illustrious list of former champions including Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Jackie Stewart and Keke Rosberg.
Randle is the 2014 Australian Formula Ford Series Champion and runner-up in the 2015 CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 Championship. Last year, Randle made his international formula racing debut finishing fourth in the British Formula 3 Championship, while he also contested the final two rounds of the high-powered Formula V8 3.5 Series (formerly World Series by Renault) in Spain.
Randle will be back home for the 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, before embarking on a full season of the British LMP3 Prototype Cup, a series for Le Mans-style sports cars where Randle will race a French-built Ligier on Grand Prix circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone.