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2018 Season

Sam shines in Britcar night race in BTCC Toyota

SAM Randon had his first experience of a British Touring Car Championship machine – and drove it from the back of the grid to third place in an evening race at Brands Hatch.

Story by Colston Crawford, Ashbourne News Telegraph

Sam was racing the NGTC Toyota Avensis BTCC car

The 23-year-old racing driver from Ashbourne was invited to take the wheel of a BTCC Toyota Avensis for his new backers, Team Hard, in the last round of the Britcar Endurance  Championship.

In the two-hour endurance races, he was partnered by Michael Crease and their brief was to try to take points off the rivals of Team Hard’s sister car, driven by championship-chasing Simon Rudd and Tim Barley.

Brands Hatch Indy Circuit was the setting for the night race

That they did – on the second day. Mechanical problems foiled their efforts on the first day, forcing Crease from the track before Randon had even had chance to take his turn behind the wheel.

The second race saw them start from the back of the grid owing to failing to finish the first race, then a problem on the warm-up lap saw them asked to start from the pit lane.

Unbowed by the disadvantage, they whizzed past the field of 22 cars and, remarkably, were leading the race by halfway.

“What an amazing car”

That was when they hit another obstacle. The Avensis, not usually used for endurance racing, is not built for rapid refuelling like some of the cars taking part, so they slipped back again when they had to fill up.

The problems did not end there. With 10 minutes to go, the front splitter started to come loose and bounce on the track.

Crease was forced to pull into the pits again. However, he came through the last few laps to grab third overall and second in class.

I want to dedicate this podium to my two grandpas who passed away

“It was an amazing result from dead last and I couldn’t be happier,” said Randon. “What a great team effort and an amazing car.

I want to dedicate this podium places to my two grandpas who both passed away last week.

“I am very grateful to Tony (team boss Tony Gilham) for giving me this opportunity. I’ve always dreamt of driving a BTCC machine so to get the chance to actually race it was very exciting.”

Team HARD – l-r Barley, Rudd, Crease and Randon

Gilham, an ex-BTCC driver himself, had no qualms about giving Randon a drive in the Avensis.
“Sam has driven faultlessly in everything we have put him in so far this season so we were keen to see what he can do in a Touring Car,” he said.

“It was back to front wheel drive so he can draw on his extensive Clio experience.”

The season done, Randon and Gilham will now talk about their options for next season – but Randon feels he has taken a big step closer to his target of a full BTCC slot in the future.

Sam to drive BTCC car in night race

SAM Randon gets one step closer to his BTCC dream after being selected to drive a current spec BTCC Toyota Avensis in the final round of the Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship at Brands Hatch next week.

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23 year old Randon will team up with 2018 Ginetta GT4 Supercup AM champion Michael Crees at the wheel of the Team HARD Racing Toyota Avensis in the Britcar finale at Brands Hatch in what will be one of the strongest pairings on the grid.

Team boss Tony Gilham has been impressed with Randon’s performances so far in Britcar. “It will be great to see Sam out in the BTCC car. We are confident he will love it and produce as always“.

With our #24 car (Rudd/Barley) still in contention for the overall Britcar endurance championship I’ve been searching for a driver to partner Sam and help take points off our rivals. Michael fits the bill perfectly. We want to end our season at the top.”

Head down to Brands Hatch on 17th/18th November to see Sam and the rest of the crew in action in what is set to be a fascinating weekend. Furthermore, this is one of the few events held in the United Kingdom that finishes at night. What better way to close the Motorsport season.

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Sam shines in the rain

SAM Randon had his first experience of racing in the wet in a GT car when he competed in the Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship at Silverstone.
story by sport@ashbournenewstelegraph.co.uk
pictures by Stevie Borowik Photography

Racing was wet at Silverstone

Having secured funding to finish the season with Team HARD in the championship, Randon was paired with another new co-driver in the demanding conditions. The pair finished out of the podium places but it was a valuable learning process for Randon.

I needed to experience the car in the wet and these Dunlop tyres were incredible. It gave me great confidence,” he said.

I had zero visibility over the start line into the first corner but I knew I had the grip so you just have to drive through it.
It’s a combination of confidence, feel and instinct. You just follow the lights of the car in front and wait for the brake lights.”

In the thick of it

Heavy rain all day meant it was touch and go as to whether there would be any racing at all and a couple of heavy accidents in the warmup due to standing water meant qualifying was held behind the safety car.
The grid order was set by championship position, with Randon’s car given P7 while the sister car of Rudd/Barley took pole.

Sam made swift progress through the field

Due to the disruption, both races were limited to 50 minutes but still required a mandatory pit stop and driver change.

Randon took the rolling start in race 2 from a P17 grid position and made impressive progress throughout his 30 minute stint despite some damage on lap one, handing the car over in P3 in class and an overall P5.

Experience in the wet

Tony Gilham, boss of Team HARD remained happy with his newest recruit. “Sam was very quick in what was very treacherous conditions,” he said

The last round at Brands Hatch is a night race in November and so is likely to be wet as well as dark, adding to the learning process.
Brands Hatch will be a totally new experience for me,” Randon said.
There is no circuit lighting, just headlights, but at least I can cope if it’s wet.”

Mixed fortunes but a podium for Randon in latest GT outing

SAM Randon was back on the podium after the latest round of the Britcar Championship at Snetterton.
by Colston Crawford – sport@ashbournenewstelegraph.co.uk

Sam shares the Ginetta  with Angus Dudley this time

He recovered from a frustrating qualifying session and then mechanical problems in race one to finish second in the following two-hour endurance race. Randon was driving the Team Hard sister car rather than the one he won in at Donington in the previous round, alongside Simon Rudd.

At Snetterton, Rudd was back with Tom Barley, while Randon was paired up with a late substitute driver, 18-year-old Angus Dudley.

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Sam heads out of the pit lane for quali

Qualifying was disappointing as neither driver really got a clear lap and they ended up 13th and fourth in class. They were a long way behind Rudd/Barley, their closest comparison.

Conditions were dry for race one and the team decided Randon should take the rolling start before a midway pit stop to hand over to Dudley.

After a good start – Randon moved up to second in class behind the sister car on the first lap – a driveshaft failed coming out of the Agostini bend and the Ashbourne driver had to park up.

Team HARD rebuild the rear differential in the car park!

The situation looked grim as the required repairs would normally take a day to carry out. But the team rose to the challenge and the car was ready within minutes of the gate closing for the two hour endurance race.

Although starting from the back of the grid, Randon channelled all his frustration into a spectacular first lap.

“One advantage of starting in last place was that I could really weave about on my own and get the car up to temperature,” said Randon.

GT racing is a team sport – The drivers discuss strategy with their engineer

“I also held back a little at the start and got a good run into the first corner.”

His determination ensured he moved up eight places after the first two corners.

“I was just determined to get back into it,” he added.
“I knew my tyres were fresher than everyone else’s as we didn’t do any laps in race one so I made the most of that advantage and worked my way up to the back of Simon Rudd in the sister car.”

From last place Sam quickly got up to the back of the sister car

Dudley took over and was first for a while but a late surge by the KTM Crossbow team of Mike McCollum and Sean Cooper claimed first place, with Randon/Dudley second and Rudd/Barley third.

“I am pleased with that,” said Randon.
“After the disappointment in qualifying and then in race one, I am just so grateful to Team Hard for getting us back out there. This was for them.

Dudley and Randon enjoy the spoils of second place

“Angus and I worked well together and were very similar speed so that is something we also need to explore together”.

It’s still not certain what the rest of this season will bring for Randon as discussions continue with Team HARD.

Sam’s in for some Hard racing with new deal

SAM Randon may have had a frustrating 2018 motor racing season – but the young Ashbourne driver knows exactly what he will be doing next year.

by Colston Crawford – sport@ashbournenewstelegraph.co.uk

Sam shares the Ginetta G55 GT4

Randon has been signed up by Team Hard – the GT racing team he made a winning guest appearance for recently. This season saw Randon struggling first with funding issues then, when he had funding in place to drive a Maserati in the GT Cup, he was unable to find a funded co-driver for the GT endurance race format, which requires drivers to swap over midway through the race.

When one of Team Hard’s drivers was unavailable in July, Randon stepped in – and he and Simon Rudd not only won their GT4 class but won the race outright in Team Hard’s Ginetta G55.

Sam impressed Team HARD

Team Hard boss Tony Gilham, an ex-British Touring Cars driver, said: “We’ve been watching Sam’s progress over the last couple of seasons.

It was great to finally welcome him to the Team Hard family for the last Britcar round at Donington.

“As expected, Sam was the perfect choice to  replace Tom Barley and went on to win on his debut and put in a complete performance to keep our championship aspirations alive.

“The Ginetta was like a go-kart”

“Sam is a great driver and very professional on and off the track, which is needed in modern day motor sport.

“Being the complete package is essential and Sam is exactly that, so we are very much looking forward to building a great relationship moving forwards.”

Britcar features TV coverage

Randon had stepped up to GT racing from Clio Cup competition, in which he had also struggled for finance. But, despite the big, powerful cars involved, GT racing represents relative value for money for aspiring drivers and, as a team event, the costs are shared between two or sometimes three drivers.

“The GT cars are amazing with bags of power and grip and the endurance races mean I’m in the car much longer than the sprint type racing I’ve done in previous seasons,” said Randon.

“I’m really excited to have a proper run at a full championship with Team Hard next year.”

Busy pitlane

Randon’s 2018 season is not quite done, as he will guest again for Team Hard in another round of the Britcar Championship this weekend at Snetterton, standing in this time for the team’s sister car.

This time he will be racing with Angus Dudley, also in a Ginetta, but against his teammate last time, Rudd, with whom he clearly hit it off.

“It will be strange racing directly against Simon,” said Randon.

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“We got on so well at the last round and were very similar paced. But at least we know the team this time and the car so it won’t be quite as daunting.

The two Team HARD Ginetta G55’s wheel to wheel

“Angus is a quick driver with lots of experience so I’m hopeful we will work well together and can be challenging for the silverware.”

AVIT media taster video of Sam with Team Hard

Great taster video from Ash at AVIT Media who has team up with Automotive photographer Mark Averill to create AVIT. New logo on the car then…

Sam back in action with Dunlop Endurance win

SAM RANDON took his frustrations out on the track with a stunning victory on his return to action at Donington Park.

by Colston Crawford – sport@ashbournenewstelegraph.co.uk

Sam shared the Ginetta G55 GT4

The 23-year-old Ashbourne driver stepped in to help out Team HARD in the Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship and partnered one of the team’s regular drivers, Simon Rudd to both overall and a class victory in a race lasting 39 laps. Team HARD were missing their usual second driver, Tom Barley, who was on his honeymoon. They invited Randon to sit in – and their judgement was repaid handsomely.

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Tony Gilham’s Team Hard ran the Ginetta

Randon has been in limbo since a win on his GT Cup debut in a Maserati in April. The GT Cup is also an endurance event, with two drivers swapping places at a pit stop, and while Randon has funding to continue, he has been unable to find a suitable co-driver.

For Donington, Randon was stepping into a Ginetta G55 GT4 car. It is less powerful than the Maserati but much lighter, so the acceleration is similar, although the handling is different.

Sam raced the Maserati at Donington earlier this year

Team HARD boss Tony Gilham said: “We have been in communication with Sam for some time now and we were looking for someone that would fit straight into the team and be up to speed.

Sam is a very grounded young racing driver with amazing natural ability and all the attributes we were looking for.”

The Ginetta is lively and handles like a go-kart. It was a steep learning curve but great fun,” added Randon.

Refueling is a key feature of Britcar endurance racing

The Britcar racing format for the weekend was a one-hour sprint race including a driver change midway, followed by a two-hour endurance race with a mandatory driver change and refuel midway.

Rudd qualified the car third in class and Randon took the first stint, including a rolling start. “It was busy and I was being cautious as I still didn’t know the car that well. We had out-qualified a few faster cars than us so they were nibbling at my heels but within a few laps I felt quite at home and focused on consistency,” said Randon.

Sam’s first stint put them in overall lead of the whole race

After switching, Rudd brought them home third in the sprint race. Randon again started the longer race.

Endurance racing is as much about strategy and reliability and the attrition began to mount up as cars stopped or retired. The safety car was deployed, which always spices things up, but we got through it and I kept banging in the laps.

“It’s a game of cat and mouse, a real team effort.”

Simon Rudd was instrumental getting Sam up to speed

By the end of the first hour, Randon was leading the whole race and it was a position Rudd was able to maintain after the change.

Gilham said: “Our judgement (to select Randon) was spot on, with an amazing debut culminating in not just a class win but an overall win.

We’re very much looking forward to working together again and seeing what the future holds.

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Randon added: “I’m so relieved we were able to give Team HARD the points they needed and pay back the faith they showed in me.”

Catena interview

Sam off to flyer with GT Maserati victory

SAM Randon enjoyed his debut in GT Cup racing as he raced to two class victories with teammate Freddy Nordstrom at Donington Park. The pair were driving a stunning Maserati GT4 in the Group GTH class at the meeting after teaming up just ahead of race day.

Story by Colston Crawford – sport@ashbournenewstelegraph.co.uk
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And while not too much should be read into the victory just yet – there was a relatively small field in the GTH class at this meeting – it was remarkable how quickly Ashbourne racer Randon adjusted to his first outing in a car much bigger and more powerful than the Renault Clio he was racing last season.

The Maserati mixing it with a faster class Porsche

Remarkably, needing a second driver, they found Nordstrom via internet networking site LinkedIn. The pair went on to lap with a hundredth of a second of each other all weekend – proving a perfect match. GT racing is a test not only of speed but endurance and strategy, as the long races require the drivers to do a stint each and the Le Mans-style rolling start and quick driver changeovers are integral to the day’s entertainment.

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Randon’s preparation was rushed, with the package pulled together late – his participation in the rest of the series is not guaranteed yet – and that meant testing was limited to a private track at Blyton in Lincolnshire, ahead of race day.

Sam had never driven RWD before

Randon had never raced a rear-wheel drive car before, nor a car with such power as the 4.7-litre Maserati. Unlike other cars on the grid, the Maserati has no ABS or traction control, so driver skill is paramount.

We came here with a plan to learn and get laps under my belt,” said Randon.
I needed to get up to speed quickly with the car as it was so different to the Clio. It was quite daunting.”

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Nordstrom, who has more experience in this sort of car, took the first stint and got them well ahead in class, a position Randon was able to hold.

Freddy and Sam both won their individual races

We got the pit stop done quite smoothly after a few practice runs beforehand,” said Randon.
Freddy built up a good gap for me, so I had to just go out and bring it home.

To do that, he had to overtake an Aston Martin – and did so.
That was so satisfying, the Maserati was so stable,” said Randon.

It’s been a really successful start as we came here with no expectations.
“We didn’t have any winter running in the car so had a first outing on Friday, then came away with two wins on Saturday.

Sam (kneeling) and Freddy (in yellow) on winners podium

It’s a big car and so are the other cars in the race.
“I was leading our class and found myself catching the back of the higher speed class. I caught the tail end of a car from another group and it had more straight-line speed.

I was all over him in the corners but couldn’t touch him on the straights. I just couldn’t get past and wasn’t going to risk passing a car I didn’t need to, so I am just stunned by the win.

I’m really pleased with the result, it’s a cracking first weekend in the GT Cup and a massive thank you to the Ebor23 guys and my sponsors Twincentric.”

The next race is at Brands Hatch in May and Randon still urgently needs sponsorship to complete the season.

ASHBOURNE racing driver Sam Randon is hoping to make the step up to driving a ferocious 4.7-litre Maserati in next year’s British GT Championship.

Sam lines up Maserati drive

ASHBOURNE racing driver Sam Randon is hoping to make the step up to driving a ferocious 4.7-litre Maserati in next year’s British GT Championship.

Story by Colston Crawford – sport@ashbournenewstelegraph.co.uk
All photos by Averill Photography


Randon tested the big beast at Donington Park last week and has impressed the new team looking to enter the championship – they are looking for an up-and-coming young driver pairing.

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Nervous first moments in the car

Randon, 22, was only able to race a couple of weekends in last year’s Renault UK Clio Cup, due to lack of funding, although he impressed sponsors and other observers in those, qualifying on the front row and finishing his shortened season with two top-10 finishes. Finding funding for next year will still be an issue but, big as the Maserati is, the season will potentially cost less, as he is sharing it with another driver.

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“It’s a beast!”

It will still cost thousands but Randon’s father, Neil, said: “While we can get away with a limited programme for one year, if his racing career is to progress, we need to make sure next season is a full campaign.

“Following his success in those two race weekends and the promise he showed, Sam was invited to test for an exciting new British GT race team.

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GT 4 class rear wing

British GT has become one of the world’s leading sports car championships, featuring a line-up of exotic machines from such as Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche and McLaren.

They race at circuits all around the UK and include one International round at the Spa Francorchamps formula one circuit in Belgium.

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GT racing is a team sport and Randon would share the driving with the other racer in endurance races of between one and two hours.

The Gran Turismo had presence in the pit lane

We were originally meant to test the car earlier in the year but Sam fractured his hand shortly before the test and we had to wait until he was strong enough,” said Neil Randon.

Sam tested his strength in a simulator at Silverstone as a final check.

“At last we had some luck, in a week of really bad weather we struck lucky and had glorious sunshine at Donington.

“This meant we could get out on slicks and really get a feel for the car.”

Iconic Maserati badge

“It’s a beast. There’s no other way to describe it,” said Sam Randon.

There are no driver aids such as traction control or even ABS brakes, this is just raw power. It’s just an amazing car to drive and makes so much noise.

“It’s a big car, too and rear wheel drive, of course. I felt like a novice all over again. It’s a very different driving technique but the simulator session helped this week.”

Testing on slicks at Donington Park

Randon impressed the team but, as always, fundraising is the rub.

This is not a done deal, far from it,” added his father.

We still have to generate a significant race budget to get him out there.

“Sam is looking for local business leaders to get involved. We already get fantastic support from the business community at Marketing Derby.

“It’s an emotional roller coaster and highly addictive. Our sponsors tend to get very involved in the highs and lows of a season.”

You can watch a video of the test day below, @SamRandonRacing, and email Sam at SamRandonRacing@yahoo.co.uk.

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KEYWORDS Neil Randon get started in karting start karting TKM not ROTAX Whilton Mill, Kimbolton, Shenington, Rissington, BT82,Super 1 one, clutched direct drive, Tony, flags, trophy, clio cup protyre, renault, BARC,BTCC, British Touring Car Championship, Westbourne, SWB, SV, Danny Buxton, talent, future, racing driver, BTCC, Clio, Maserati,Tony Gilham, Team HARD, Westbourne Motorsport

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