Oliver Jarvis is celebrating after a commanding win in the notoriously demanding Formula Three race at the Macau Grand Prix.
And the British racer, a former BRDC Young Driver’s Award winner who represents his country in A1GP and currently drives in the the All Japan F3 Championship, is hoping this success will kick-start his F1 career.
Jarvis won the second qualifying race to earn a surprise pole position then led almost the entire 15-lap race on the 3.8-mile Guia street circuit. And he beat GP2 drivers Sebastien Buemi and Bruno Senna in the process.
Macau is recognised as one of the most demanding circuits in the world because of its combination of fast sections, twisty corners and the kind of crash barriers that make Monaco look like the wide-open spaces of Sepang.
As well as the F3 race it hosts motorbike racing and the final two stages of the World Touring Car Championship.
Briton Andy Priaulx, driving for BMW, won for the third consecutive year after he claimed victory in the second race plus his fourth successive Touring Car championship.
Jarvis recognises that his next career step won’t be easy, with almost all the F1 race drives sewn up for 2008 and even testing positions subject to fierce competition, often from his fellow Brits.
Drivers who have managed to secure testing roles range from McLaren’s Gary Paffett and Super Aguri’s James Rossiter, who have contracts with teams, to GP2’s Mike Conway who is at the stage of being invited for individual testing days with Honda.
Jarvis himself did recently test with McLaren, as a result of his 2005 BRDC win. And former Macau F3 race winners include Ayrton Senna, both Schumacher brothers (with Michael once involved in an incident with Mika Hakkinen that prefigured their F1 battles) and Scotland’s David Coulthard.
But other factors, such as finding the sponsorship that would allow him to compete in GP2, are likely to have an equal influence on his future as this prestigious win.
Jarvis, who finished with a time of 38:29.452 for his TOM’S Toyota team, called his victory “the biggest race win of my career.”
He told Autosport: “The best drivers from around the world compete here and today we came out on top. It takes a little bit of luck to win Macau, but at the same time I think we have been comfortably quickest over the past two days.
“Last night I went to bed a very happy man but also a little bit nervous, knowing the big race was today. We managed to perform so I am delighted for the team and myself.
“The hardest part was, for sure, keeping concentration. When you are in the lead it is very easy to focus too much on those behind. I did brush the wall once, but luck was on my side today. I got away with it and we came away with the win.
“There are very few options. I would hope that a test drive might be possible, and I would hope that we could approach a few teams on the back of this result. But realistically, I just want to be racing next year — whether it is GP2, Formula Nippon or DTM. I love racing, and hopefully I can continue doing so.”
In fact Jarvis’ only problem was a piece of cack-handedness on the podium that saw him hit himself in the face with a champagne cork and cut open his bottom lip – meaning he accepted his trophy while bleeding profusely.
He’ll need to sort that out if he plans to make a habit of this sort of thing…