Comeback complete as Randle wins Gold Star opener
Thomas Randle has won the opening round of the 2021 VHT S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship, completing a remarkable story that has seen him going from Chemotherapy to the top step of the podium within a month.
The 24-year-old Victorian was only recently declared healthy after a more than year-long battle with Testicular Cancer, but showed no signs of any ill-effects as he won a compelling and at times dramatic 25-lap Gold Star feature race at Symmons Plains on Australia Day.
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Starting second, Randle made a perfect start and led the field to the first corner.
Though the field chased hard, the Team BRM driver was never really pressured as he edged away to a four-second victory over Tim Macrow and Nathan Herne.
He was presented with his winners trophy by three-time Gold Star champion, John McCormack.
“I’ve got to thank my family and the team, Team BRM, and all my supporters. It was really important that I started that race on the front row and try to get the launch to victory, and that’s what we did – try to control it from there,” Randle said.
“It’s a dream. it’s nearly a perfect weekend – we didn’t get the lap record but to come away with the lap record I’m speechless after the last couple of months I’ve had.”
Macrow completed a strong comeback to finish second in his UCS Group Tim Macrow Racing entry, having only qualified seventh.
The Victorian rebounded with a win in the second heat race which helped him start the feature from the inside of the second row; Macrow making a perfect start like Randle to beat Joey Mawson into turn one.
He survived early pressure from Joey Mawson and James Golding, and a vision-blurring double front lockup, to secure second place.
Valvoline GRM driver Nathan Herne starred in his charge to third place, though was able to take advantage of a controversial collision between Joey Mawson and James Golding to leapfrog his way into the top three.
Running third and fourth respectively, Mawson and Golding had battled for the final step on the podium for much of the race before things came to a head on the 22nd lap; Golding colliding with Mawson from behind at the Symmons Plains hairpin.
The contact speared Golding into the gravel trap and out of the race, while Mawson was able to recover to fourth position and salvage some all important championship points.
Ricky Capo completed a solid weekend in fifth position, 88Racing / ACM Finance driver Cooper Webster in a career-best sixth position on his S5000 debut.
Luis Leeds and Antonio Astuti battled for seventh and eighth position, while Brayden Willmington completed the finishers.
Golding failed to finish, while Tommy Smith was unable to start after crashing his Team BRM entry in the earlier sprint race.
Thomas Randle now leads the Australian Drivers’ Championship for the Motorsport Australia Gold Star award, his 115 points putting him 11 in front of Tim Macrow (104). Joey Mawson sits third.
The second round of the VHT S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship will be held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit 19-21.