TRS champion Randle admits title may be his single-seater swan-song

Thomas Randle (TRS champion), Pedro Piquet (TRS runner-up), Marcus Armstrong (best-placed Kiwi and Manfeiuld round ...
Warwick Smith

Thomas Randle (TRS champion), Pedro Piquet (TRS runner-up), Marcus Armstrong (best-placed Kiwi and Manfeiuld round winner) and Jehan Daravula (New Zealand Grand Prix champion) celebrate their success.

Money and politics in F1 mean Thomas Randle's Toyota Racing Series title will likely be his final soiree in single-seater racing.

The Australian turned on two of the best drives of the series at Manfeild on Sunday to secure the TRS title in the narrowest battle in the competition's 13-year history.

Randle, 20, will now compete in a Ligier LMP3 in the six-round British Le Mans Cup in what he hopes will be the start of his endurance racing career.

New Zealand Grand Prix winner Jehan Daravula and Toyota Racing Series champion Thomas Randle celebrate at Manfeild.
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New Zealand Grand Prix winner Jehan Daravula and Toyota Racing Series champion Thomas Randle celebrate at Manfeild.

He hoped to follow in the foot steps of Kiwis like Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber and Richie Stanaway as drivers who have raced in the TRS and forged careers in endurance racing.

"I guess this will be the start of my endurance career," he said. "My goal has always been F1, but the way F1 is these days and how political is has become it is nearly impossible to get a seat in it."

"I think these days endurance racing is the way to go. I would love to do the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But it will all depend on how we go this year."

New Zealand Grand Prix winner Jehan Daravula takes the chequered flag at Manfeild on Sunday.
Warwick Smith

New Zealand Grand Prix winner Jehan Daravula takes the chequered flag at Manfeild on Sunday.

Randle proved consistency was key to taking out the TRS title.

He won twice in the 15-races, set the fastest lap in seven races and started in pole position three times.

But where he took control of the title was by never finishing lower than seventh.

New Zealand's Marcus Armstrong takes a sip from the Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup after being the overall winner of round ...
Warwick Smith

New Zealand's Marcus Armstrong takes a sip from the Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup after being the overall winner of round five of the TRS.

The four trailing drivers - Pedro Piquet, Richard Verschoor, Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daravula - would have easily lifted the title if their worst finishes were elevated to seventh.

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Randle's ability to stay on the track and out of trouble - not to mention the highlight footage of Manfeild race two where he blitzed his way into fourth after slipping to 12th at the first turn - should see him get plenty of driving opportunities in the future.

But while Randle may be prepared to give away his dreams of a F1 career, three drivers in the field appear to be well on their way to the F1 starting grid.

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Kiwi Brendon Leitch walked away unscathed from a crash at Manfeild, despite flipping his TRS car three times.

Armstrong (Ferrari), Daravula (Force India) and Verschoor (Red Bull) are all in F1 teams' development programmes.

Verschoor, who finished the TRS third, is set for a debut in the Formula Renault Euro Cup this year.

He admitted when he first started racing, F1 was never the goal.

"We were never really racing because we wanted to reach F1, but because I wanted to spend time more time with my father," he said.

But now he is under the umbrella of Red Bull, he hoped to kick on to the top level.

Verschoor will likely see some familiar faces in the Formula Renault Euro Cup.

Frenchmen Thomas Neubauer and Jean Baptiste Simmenauer and Australian Luis Leeds, a former Red Bull development driver, are all expected to line up in the series.

TRS runner-up Piquet, New Zealand Grand Prix champion Daravula, English driver Enaam Ahmed and Austria's Ferdinand Habsburg are all set to drive in the European Formula 3 Championship.

Armstrong will team up with Prema, the team which has dominated Formula 3 for the last couple of years, but given his age, 16, he will probably do a season of Formula 4 in either Germany or Italy, or possibly both countries.

Brazil's Christian Hahn has been confirmed in Formula 3's Euroformula Open Championship and England's Ameya Vaidyanathan will be in the British Formula 3 championship.

A trio of American drivers will head back to Indycar feeder series.

Shelby Blackstock will drive in the Indy Lights, while Keyvan Andres and Cory Enders will race in the Pro-Mazda class along with California-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin.

Kiwis Brendon Leitch and Taylor Cockerton have yet to finalise their plans with money likely to be a big factor in their decision making.

WHERE TO NOW?

Thomas Randle (Australia) - British Le Mans Cup 

Pedro Piquet (Brazil) - European Formula 3 Championship

Richard Verschoor (Netherlands) - Formula Renault Euro Cup

Marcus Armstrong (NZ) - likely Formula 4 in Germany or Italy

Jehan Daravula (India) - European Formula 3 Championship

Enaam Ahmed (UK) - European Formula 3 Championship

Taylor Cockerton (NZ) - Unconfirmed

Ferdinand Habsburg (Austria) - European Formula 3 Championship

Brendon Leitch (NZ) - Unconfirmed

Kami Leliberte (Canada) - Unconfirmed

Luis Leeds (Australia) - Formula Renault Euro Cup

Shelby Blackstock (USA) - Indy Lights

Keyvan Andres (USA) - Pro-Mazda

Christian Hahn (Brazil) - Formula 3 Euroformula Open Championship

Harry Hayek (Australia) - Unconfirmed

Ameya Vaidyanathan (UK) - British Formula 3

Thomas Neubauer (France) - Formula Renault Euro Cup

Nikita Lastochkin (Russia) - Pro-Mazda

Jean Baptiste Simmenauer (France) - Formula Renault Euro Cup

Kory Enders (USA) - Pro Mazda

 - Stuff

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