Crossing the line to claim his sixth Julius Baer Pole Position on Saturday, Oliver Rowland was jubilant over the team radio to the Nissan garage, exclaiming: "That is why I came back!"
With the previous day's form book completely shredded and thrown out the window, the Yorkshireman's run to pole was full of confidence in the Nissan GEN3 machine, as he went faster and faster with each Duel. Ahead of the Final against Robin Frijns (Envision Racing) he could be heard asking the team for his lap time, and assuredly responded that he could go quicker.
"We have to take confidence from that, as I think the good thing is we understand why. So hopefully we can repeat that in the coming races."
Sat in that coveted front row position on the grid, Rowland was unable to match the start of Frijns alongside him as the green Envision got the jump on the Brit and darted up the inside into the tight right hander to start the race.
In the early stages of the race, the Brit was left behind as the Jaguar-powered pair fought on ahead with Nick Cassidy (Jaguar TCS Racing) leading from Frijns. Rowland admitted he lacked confidence in his energy during the ATTACK MODE phases, but he reined them back in the closing stages but crossed the line for some solid points and silverware
"I am slightly disappointed coming third," said Rowland on his first podium since Seoul in 2022. "At the start of the day we had a lot of wheel spin, but we had our chance to control the race if we wanted to win. We didn't manage to do that, but still, it's a great result for the team. Lots of points and we'll take this confidence into the next one."
Confidence blossoming for Nissan as podium complimented by points double
Last season the one-lap pace was in the Nissan, with some particularly rapid pole performances from then-rookie Sacha Fenestraz. This appears to have continued into Season 10 as both of the cherry-blossom liveried Nissans topped each of the Group stages before Rowland romped to pole.
The team have had a better start to their Season 10 campaign, scoring a podium at just the third time of asking. Last year the Japanese outfit waited until the 14th round, with former driver Norman Nato finishing second in Rome.
With a podium and a sixth place finished for Fenestraz, Nissan leave leave Saudi Arabia with a double points scoring tally.
There's more to come for the Rowland and Nissan, with the Brit setting clear intentions for the top step after returning to the stable: “I can absolutely build on this momentum going into Sao Paulo, I came back to Nissan with the target of winning.
"We know it's a long road, but we'll keep pushing and I think the first step was made today, and the potential we’ve seen over the first two races has been very good. I'm happy.”