Canada's Robert Wickens declared himself ready to take maximum advantage of title rival Daniel Ricciardo's absence from the opening Formula Renault 3.5 round of the season, after claiming pole position for this afternoon's first race at Motorland Aragon.
ISR's Ricciardo was unable to attend the Spanish event after backer Red Bull nominated him to take part in Friday's Formula 1 free practice session with Toro Rosso at the Chinese Grand Prix.
"I definitely take on board that Daniel Ricciardo isn't here, as he is expected to be one of the favourites," said Wickens. "I need to score as many points as possible so that he is really playing catch up when he comes back later in the season."
The Carlin driver's pole lap came after playing himself into proceedings gradually on Friday with fifth and sixth fastest times in practice.
"Yesterday we were struggling a little bit with consistency," continued Wickens. "I am not sure exactly what was wrong but I couldn't get the best out of either set of tires. We made a few adjustments overnight, and I am now happy that we again have the car that we had in testing.
"I was stressing out a little bit today as I found traffic on my third lap, which is generally where you find the time. I then tried not to ask too much of the tyres before managing to do pole on my fourth lap."
Carlin previously ran Wickens in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2008, where he finished 12th in the drivers' standings. In the intervening period Wickens finished runner-up in the inaugural Formula 2 and GP3 championships.
"There have been some changes in personnel at Carlin since my last time with the team, but they are all a likeable bunch of guys," said the Canadian. "I think doing by doing GP3 last year I learned a lot and it made me stronger. You learn every year, and in the same way doing F2 and World Series before that made stronger than I was in Atlantics."