ALEX YOONG, FIRST MALAYSIAN TO RACE IN FORMULA 3000 Qualifies 12th in Italian F3000 round 3 in Pergusa, Sicily Pergusa, Sicily - Italy, Friday 17th July 1999 - Alex Yoong, 23 on the 20th July, became the first ever Malaysian to participate...
ALEX YOONG, FIRST MALAYSIAN TO RACE IN FORMULA 3000
Qualifies 12th in Italian F3000 round 3 in Pergusa, Sicily
Pergusa, Sicily - Italy, Friday 17th July 1999 - Alex Yoong, 23 on the 20th July, became the first ever Malaysian to participate in a Formula 3000 event when he qualified 12th out of 16 entries in round 3 of the 1999 Italian F3000 Championship in the 4.950km Pergusa Circuit set at the foothills of active volcano Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy today.
Yoong could have managed a better grid position at qualifying had he not missed a full hour of practice earlier in the morning as a result of a crash on lap 2 when his F3000 car was launched off the last chicanes high curbs damaging his car's steering arm.
"The car just took off when I hit the curbs a little bit too hard and I just headed for the tire barriers. I shouldn't have pushed so hard so early. It was my fault. The accident was quite similar to Michael Schumacher's crash in Canada when he too got launched from hitting the curbs too hard and into the wall he went. I was lucky this happened in a non-qualifying practice.," said Yoong.
"The F3000 car is fantastic to drive. It has so much power and I really need to get track time to get on the pace. The one-hour lost this morning meant that I was always behind the rest and had to play catch up in the 30 minutes. Qualifying session this afternoon. I am sure to get stronger as the race progresses tomorrow. Twenty five laps of 4.950 km means a long 45 mins race and I hope my fitness will get me up to the top 10."added Yoong.
Yoong who is driving for Monaco Motorsports was only 1.2 sec behind his very experienced team-mate Marco Apicella who had raced in Formula 1 with Jordan in 1993 at Monza. Apicella who won round 1 at Vallelunga, Italy in June this year qualified 5th with a time of 1m 32.922s while Yoong's time was 1m 34.150s.
Much improved Indonesian sensation Ananda Mikola grabbed pole with a time of 1m 32.269s with Marcello Battistuzzi from Brazil (round 2's winner) second on the grid with a time of 1m 32.597s. Britain's Mark Shaw and Italy's Giorgio Vinella shared second row with times of 1m 32.777s and 1m 32.836 respectively.
Mikola who was 5th in round 1 and 8th in round 2 will look forward to be the first South Asian to win a F3000 race tomorrow. Mikola like Yoong and Narain Karthikeyan of India (who won 2 F3 races in Britain) are all graduates of the Formula Asia series which were run in the years between 1994 and 1996. It is heartening to see three promising young racers from Asia outside Japan making their marks in top level international racing and it will be interesting to see which one will reach Formula 1 first.
Yoong's Manager in Europe, Simon Munger was impressed with Yoong today, "Alex proved to me that he is quick and not afraid to push the F3000 car in his first try. I am sure he'll be on the pace within another 1 or 2 races. I expect him to give a good performance tomorrow. Mikola is also very quick but he has the benefit of 2 races more than Alex behind him. It will be interesting to see how both of them fare against each other towards the later part of the season."
The Alex Yoong Racing for Malaysia project which is a Malaysian government endorsed project is sponsored by The Ministry of Youth and Sports, Tourism Malaysia, Proton, Pan Global Insurance, Malaysia Airlines, SAMP, and Neuronet Malaysia.