Britain's Jon Lancaster is wasting little time in adapting to the World Series by Renault, taking his maiden success in the F1 feeder series on only his fourth appearance with Comtec Racing.
The 20-year old, who decided to step up a level after failing to land a full-season return to the F3 Euroseries, has shown rapid progress on each of his outings, culminating in a faultless lights-to-flag win in the first of two races at Portimao on Saturday.
Lancaster started from his second pole of the season, this time courtesy of the WSbR's quirky qualifying procedure, and held off a fierce challenge from championship leader Bertrand Baguette and new Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari.
Making a great start to lead into the first corner - where Chris van der Drift and Dani Clos collided - Lancaster's first concern came on lap two, when a safety car was required to retrieve British F3 championship leader Daniel Ricciardo's car after a collision with Julian Leal, but again he got the jump on Baguette at the restart. Despite pressure from the Belgian, the Comtec driver survived a second deployment of the safety car - when three cars collided on lap 14 - and held his nerve over the remaining 21 laps to take an emotional victory, which he dedicated to his girlfriend's late mother, who recently passed away.
“It was a complicated race and wasn't at all easy,” Lancaster insisted, "I built up a lead at the start and, after about three laps, I started to push, but my rear tyres went off very quickly. After the safety car, I concentrated on staying focused and consistent in an attempt to keep Baguette behind.
“This worked every time until I made a small mistake and he had a good look at getting past. But this was my race and I wasn't giving it up. We're getting faster with every race - fastest lap in the second race at Silverstone, first pole in the third race at Le Mans and now a maiden win in the fourth. I couldn't be happier.”
Race two proved more than frustrating, after an incident with Fairuz Fauzy damaged the Comtec car's front wing and pitched it into a spin, resulting in it being hit by Anton Nebylitsky in the closing stages. Despite the disappointing end to the day, however, Lancaster heads into the next round of the championship, at the Nürburgring over 19-20 September, confident of another strong showing.
“With the consistent pace we've shown in the last four rounds, I'm really looking forward to the Nürburgring," he insisted, "It's a track I know very well, and on which I've won in the past, so it should be a good circuit for me. The team also knows it well and, with the pace we have now got, there is no reason why we can't be looking for another win.”