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Indonesia's rising star signs for Astromega

ANANDA MIKOLA has signed a two-year contract to race for the Astromega team in Formula 3000. The 20-year-old Indonesian, who struggled this season with the World Racing Team, has hopes of becoming his country's first F1 driver in the course of the next five years and with Astromega he has the opportunity to show his potential. Mikola had been linked with a long-term deal with Prost Grand Prix but Alain Prost's decision to sell shares in his team to the Diniz Family rather than to a little-publicized Indonesian-Singapore group of investors meant that Mikola has decided to look elsewhere.

Mikola is very well-connected in Indonesia and is a relative of one of President Achmad Sukarno's ministers from the 1960s. Sukarno, the first President of Indonesia, was ousted in a military coup in 1967 by General Raden Suharto, who remained in control until a couple of years ago but is now under indictment for corruption.

The current government includes Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, Sukarno's daughter and there seems to be support for Mikola from her following. Several high-ranking members of the Indonesian government visited the Monaco and Malaysian GPs last year as negotiations took place with Prost. These also involved the Singapore-born Australian racer Christian Murchison. It is worth noting that there are also plans being discussed for a racing circuit to be built on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali.

Mikola is expected to be joined at Astromega by Italian rising star Giorgio Pantano while the team will continue to be run by former F1 men Sam Boyle and engineer Chris Murphy.

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