Australian Thomas Randle made a statement to others in the fifth round of the BRDC British F3 Championship by taking pole position after a last lap gasp that saw him displace early pace setter Matheus Leist. Randle, who is known for his strong starts, will be pleased to have collected his first pole position of the season.
He had been a qualifying specialist in Australian Formula 4 last year, picking up eight poles over the course of the season, more than any other driver. 2016 has been a different story though, with the Douglas Motorsport driver struggling to take the edge over his competition.
Leist was quickly to get up to speed as the session got underway. Temporarily going 10 seconds quicker than the rest of the field, he was soon reaching his limit, averaging in the low 1 minute 57 seconds. His stay on the top didn’t last long though, with Randle being the first to displace him.
While the majority of the cars made the most of the trrack time, Enaam Ahmed stayed in pits for a while choosing not to make the most of the time on track. He’d eventually emerge later, quickly shooting towards the top.
The provisional pole kept changing as the time counted down, Leist lept to the top before Lando Norris took the initiative. As the times settled down slightly it was the Brazilian who lead from Norris and debutant Harrison Scott.
Scott, along with the top seven in the championship, excluding Ahmed, dominated the opening three quarters of the session, but a stunning lap from Double R Racing’s Enzo Bortoleto saw him leap up to fifth as the rest of the field caught up.
With three minutes to go, Ahmed and Tarun Reddy joined the fight as the Indian held his ground with the top times now in the 1 minute 56 second bracket. It soon became obvious that Leist, Scott and Norris were dominating the top three as the battle for pole looked to be between them three.
Randle was quick to squash any thoughts of a second Leist podium as he set two final laps that eventually allowed him to take pole by 0.034 seconds.
Leist, who was unable to better his second flying lap, lines up alongside him as Norris and Reddy filled out the second row. Ricky Collard had been quiet throughout the session but was still able to work his way into fifth as Scott was eventually pushed back to sixth.
Ahmed and Aleksanteri Huovinen completed the top eight as championship contender Toby Sowery continues his unfortunate run of form only qualifying twelfth.