Dan Wheldon flew into London from the USA at the weekend and promptly picked up yet another Rookie of the Year award!

The 25-year old English IRL IndyCar Series star was named the Autosport.com Rookie of the Year at theprestigious AUTOSPORT Awards in London on Sunday evening - a prize voted via an on-line poll on the Autosport.com website.

The Briton caused astir driving for Andretti Green Racing in the all-oval American series this year, winning the IRL's own Bombardier Rookie of the Year award, despite not competing in the first two races of the 2003 season.

Jaguar Racing F1 driver Mark Webber presented the award to Wheldon - after the Australian took a small amount of flak following his country's loss to England in the recent Rugby World Cup final!

'I think Jonny Wilkinson is great,' added Wheldon . . .

Talking about his triumph, the Briton said: 'Andretti Green is a fantastic team. Michael Andretti is a tough boss, but he's good. I enjoyed it all a lot, and I'm looking forward to next year.'

The highlight of Dan Wheldon's year was the Indianapolis 500 - until a huge crash put him out late in the race. 'The Indy 500 was a great month,' he said, 'apart from the last few laps! It was a great experi ence and I can't wait to go back.'

Wheldon will be one of four Brits in the IRL next year. 'It's great, especially having Dario Franchitti in the same team. Next year's going to be a strong one for the Brits.'

Winning Rookie of the Year awards has become something of a habit for Wheldon. Since moving to the USA in 1999, he has won four Rookie titles: US Ford 2000 (1999); CARTToyota Atlantic (2000); CART Dayton Indy Lights (2001) and IRL IndyCar Series (2003).

-www.danwheldon.com