Vandoorne scores maiden Super Formula victory at Okayama

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Future McLaren Formula 1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne scored his maiden victory in the Japanese Super Formula series at Okayama on Saturday.

McLaren announced last weekend at Monza that Vandoorne would step up to an F1 race seat in 2017, partnering Fernando Alonso.

The 2015 GP2 Series champion has been racing in Super Formula this year as a stop-gap with the Docomo Team Dandelion operation, as well as working as McLaren’s reserve driver, leading to his F1 debut in Bahrain in April.

Vandoorne qualified third for Saturday’s race at Okayama, but rose to second before the start after pole-sitter Kazuki Nakajima lined up in the wrong grid slot, prompting race officials to send him to the back of the field.

Vandoorne shot off the line and sped past new pole-sitter Yuji Kunimoto, moving into a lead he never relinquished before crossing the line almost five seconds clear of the field.

Super Formula is the sixth different championship that Vandoorne has won a race in, following successes in GP2, Formula Renault 3.5, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and the F4 Eurocup.

The anticipation surrounding Vandoorne’s arrival in F1 in 2017 has been great, and is surely only set to grow after this latest victory.