Tom Dillmann rued missed opportunities after a stunning return to form with Carlin for third at the eighth round of the Formula Renault 3.5 championship at Le Mans.

The Frenchman was promoted to third in front of his home crowd after Matthieu Vaxiviere's ten second time penalty for exceeding track limits. The 26-year-old is competing in his first full season since 2013 after previous budget issues hampered his racing seasons.

Discussing his recent progress with Crash.net at the famous Le Mans circuit, Dillmann admitted that his car has undergone a complete reconstruction since the season began at Motorland, Aragon in April. Jagonya Ayam by Carlin returned to FR3.5 this year after a 12 month absence.

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"From the Nurburgring on, we changed the approach and the set-up and we started from zero again and we were playing catch up," he told Crash.net . "We didn't catch up so much but we decided to start again in our own way and we were fighting for pole today."

It is a case of missed opportunities for Dillmann who secured his first podium since the Monaco support race in May. As his car number 26 underwent reconstruction mid-season, the Frenchman was left to contend in the middle of the pack.

"It is a bit frustrating as well because we lost so many races with a set-up that didn't work but overall we are positive and hope we can finish on the podium in the championship," he continued. "If we do well in the last few races, we can get them."

It was a strong first race for the experienced driver after setting a provisional lap record in free practice - later extended by champion elect Oliver Rowland - and his fourth placed grid slot on Saturday. His one lap pace was just one tenth-of-a-second down on the pole-sitter in one of the closest qualifying sessions of the season.

"Even though I'm French, I didn't do so many races here so I was actually a bit of a pessimist before coming here but we were at the front and I really enjoyed myself," he later explained.

"We were caught in the strain of attacking and defending. The pace was good. I can see now that I am quicker than them."

Dillmann is currently fighting against Nyck de Vries, Jazeman Jaafar and Dean Stoneman for third place in the championship.