Malaysia 's Alex Yoong made a sensational seasonal debut start in round 3 of the 1999 British Formula 3 Championship in Thruxton yesterday despite very little testing on his new Alan Docking Racing Dallara F399 Mugen Honda race car with an impressive sixth.

He qualified sixth on the grid out of 19 entries earlier in the day only four tenths off the pole man Andrew Kirkaldy of Britain with a time of 1m. 09.212 s.

Team boss Alan Docking was impressed "We must all understand that we have here the toughest F3 championship in the world and throughout the field are some of the best Formula 3 drivers in the world. To put the car straight onto the top three rows is impressive after only 2 hours of testing in the new car."

Alex was hopeful of a chance for the top five spots for the race but after a good start from Alex he was shunted by a spinning Narain Karthikeyan of India.

"I knew the shunt was not Narain's fault and I could not see what happened at the back as Narain's car came up sideways and damaged my side pod and as I found out later also incurred damages to my radiator pipes. This happened in the second corner of the first lap." Said Alex.

In having to access the possible damage to his car's suspension, Alex eased of a little thus enabling the two Fortec Team's car of Kristian Kolby of Denmark and Matthew Davies of Britain to pass him.

Alex however claimed back a spot by passing the Renault works team's Aluizio Coelho of Brazil at the end of lap one to stay in sixth till the end of the race with a faultless drive.

Jenson Button, Coelho's British team mate won the 20 lap race with a time of 23m 42.508s. in the 3.81 km Thruxton circuit which is the fastest circuit in Britain. Second was Andrew Kirkaldy with championship leader Marc Hynes third. Alex was in sixth spot only 11.4 seconds behind the winner and one second behind fifth.

Alex is optimistic of his chances for the top five positions in the Championship for the year saying "I will at the team's next test day find more speed from the car. I'm confident that a championship top 5 is well within my reach and a top 3 position is not impossible. I want to concentrate in getting my first Formula 3 race win first and not think about the championship."

Alex now lies tenth in the championship with the 6 points in round three after having missed the first two rounds due to late funding. Round four will be held in Brands Hatch in Kent on the 24th of April 1999.

Alex is sponsored by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Pan Global Insurance, and Malaysian Airlines. He is still looking for a balance of funding amounting to RM 2 million to complete the year's championship.