Tom Dillmann has become the inaugural champion of the Formula V8 3.5 series after an unlikely fightback in the final race of the year on Sunday in Barcelona.
Formula V8 3.5 took over from the old Formula Renault 3.5 single-seater series after Renault withdrew its backing at the end of 2015.
Dillmann made his debut in 3.5 in 2015 after spending three years in GP2, finishing the year seventh in the standings.
For 2016, the Frenchman moved to AVF and kick-started his title bid with a string of six straight podium finishes to start the year, including a race win in Hungary.
Dillmann appeared on the rostrum just twice in the 10 races that followed, meaning he entered the final round of the year in Barcelona trailing Louis Deletraz by three points.
A second-place finish in Saturday’s race saw Deletraz extend his lead to six points before qualifying on pole for Sunday’s title decider; Dillmann could only muster seventh on the grid.
Dillmann made a good start to sit behind Deletraz on-track, the pole-sitter having dropped back, and managed to vault into the lead following the pit cycle. Deletraz could not follow suit, meaning he was left in P4 heading into the closing stages.
Despite coming under intense pressure from Roy Nissany in the closing stages of the race, Dillmann was able to cross the line and score just his second win of the year, but it was enough to take the title.
“What a thriller! We led most of the championship and the last round was pretty difficult for us,” Dillmann said. “The team did an awesome job to have a great AVF car back and we went back to normal this weekend. Everybody in the team believed we in our potential and here we are.
“The race was perfect. We had a great start, the car was really fast from the beginning to the end, we knew we need a perfect race and I’m really happy for the team who believed in me putting me in the car for this season.”
With this victory, Dillmann follows in the footsteps of notable 3.5 series champions including Carlos Sainz Jr., Kevin Magnussen and Mikhail Aleshin.