Quietly impressive...

IT has not been much remarked but the progress of Australian driver Rob Nguyen in Formula 3000 this year has been remarkable, particularly in the light of his performance in relation to some of the other well-hyped youngsters in the series, notably his countryman Ryan Briscoe.

Nguyen has not scored a point nor, in truth, has he looked like getting one but the fact that he can qualify 11th fastest at Monaco, just a tenth slower than his team mate Mario Haberfeld (a man with three years of F3000 experience) has left the engineers and team management at Astromega lost for words. Why?

Because Nguyen had never seen the track before. Yes, that is part of it. But perhaps, more tellingly, this was only the 14th race in his entire racing career (including karting). When he started in Formula 3000 this year Nguyen had done nine races in his life.

Team Astromega has a two-year contract with Nguyen who, as his name suggests, has Vietnamese antecedents but was born in Brisbane. The teams talks of his rapid ability to learn and his extraordinary natural pace and hope that as he develops he will become a frontrunner in the series. His progress to date has been one of constant improvement and when he spun out in Monaco he was ahead of Haberfeld, who went on to score a point.

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