Daniel Ricciardo clinched the 2009 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series championship title in fine style today at the new Algarve circuit in Portugal.
The 20-year-old took a maximum-points finish in the first of the day's races, and claimed a fourth-place finish in race two, enough to lift the crown beyond the reach of any of his rivals.
Ricciardo is the second successive Carlin Motorsport/Red Bull racer to claim the British F3 crown - last year's victor, Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari, was promoted to F1 stardom a matter of months after his championship win.
Ricciardo's title is also the first international championship victory of the modern era for engine supplier Volkswagen, and he becomes only the third Australian to win the British F3 title - Tim Schenken was the first, in 1968, and David Brabham the last, 20 years ago.
"This is everything I've wanted since the start of the season," said Ricciardo, "and for it to come around a bit early makes it a bit sweeter. It still hasn't quite sunk in but I'm sure that by the end of tonight I'll realise it and party hard.
“If I can now follow in Jaime Alguersuari's footsteps that would be great - I'm not saying I'll be in F1 next year, but I'd like to be there in the near future. That's my dream."
Ricciardo never doubted he could pull it off: "We had some bad rounds; Rockingham and Hockenheim weren't the best for us - that was where Hitech started coming on strong - but we never lost faith, kept believing and working hard for it," he added.
There was jubilation also for 20-year-old Brit Daniel McKenzie, who secured the National Class title thanks to a class win and a second-place finish in Portugal.
Fortec Motorsport racer McKenzie has shown remarkable consistency throughout the season, beating his chief rival, Brazilian Gabriel Dias, to the class win in 10 of his 18 races. Title secured, McKenzie hopes to step up, with a Mercedes-powered Fortec Dallara, into the International class next weekend at Brands Hatch, venue for the championship's final rounds.