Red Bull Formula 1 protege Pierre Gasly has admitted he was relieved to overcome early-season troubles to take his first win in Super Formula last weekend.
Prior to his victory at Motegi, Gasly's best result from four races in the Japanese single-seater series was a fifth-place finish at Fuji.
It took Gasly three races to even score a point, with his struggles including on-track incidents, extracting the most from the tyres in qualifying and the communication and working practices within his mostly Japanese-speaking team.
Despite a brake failure in free practice and rain showers that further limited dry running, Gasly was able to convert a fourth place grid slot into a breakthrough win at Motegi.
It was also Honda's first triumph as an engine manufacturer since now-McLaren F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne won last year's finale at Suzuka.
"It feels amazing, I'm so happy," he said.
"Thank you to Team Mugen and Honda for the hard work.
"Honda brought an engine upgrade this weekend and it seems to work really well.
"I'm just happy about all the work they've done because since the beginning of the season we've struggled.
"Finally they've done it. It feels fantastic to win after only four races in Super Formula.
"I hope we will be able to keep this form in the next few races."
The 2016 GP2 Series champion's strategy was key to the win, as a longer first stint on the medium tyre helped him jump Kenta Yamashita and Tomoki Nojiri.
Gasly's path to victory was cleared completely when race leader Kamui Kobayashi got held up in the pits with a botched pitstop.
It meant Gasly became the first rookie to win a race this year, beating 2015 European F3 champion Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Cassidy, among others, to the accolade.
Rosenqvist notched up his second successive podium at Motegi, and felt that Gasly's pace in the first stint made the crucial difference.
"I had the same strategy as Pierre and he was very, very quick on the medium tyre," he explained.
"I couldn't follow other cars as I was struggling with oversteer very early on.
"So I probably lost five-six seconds and that was the difference.
"After the pitstops I came out behind three other cars, Pierre came out in front of these cars.
"That was big decider for the race."