Dan Wheldon added another title to his 2003 Indy Racing League rookie of the year award on Sunday, when he was announced as the recipient of the Autosport rookie of the year in London.

Rookie of the year titles are nothing new to Wheldon, mind you. Since moving to the United States in 1999, he has won three other similar crowns based on his track performances in Formula Ford 2000, Toyota Atlantic and Dayton Indy Lights.

The latest award was determined by a fan vote at the renowned magazine's website, and resulted in Wheldon, who left the British racing scene for the US after it became apparent that his budget would not stretch to F3 and beyond, receiving his trophy from Formula One standout Mark Webber. The Briton, who starred in karts before his climb up the junior ranks, saw off the challenge of six other drivers from racing series around the world, including IRL newcomer Darren Manning, Formula One drivers Cristiano da Matta, Ralph Firman and Justin Wilson, and CART sensation Sebastien Bourdais.

The 25-year old finished eleventh in the IndyCar Series points, despite not completing a full season with the Andretti Green team. Slated to join the series when team boss Michael Andretti retired after the Indy 500, Wheldon got an early start by replacing the injured Dario Franchitti in Japan, before running the 500 and all races beyond that in the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara-Honda. He scored five top-five finishes and ten top-tens, taking a career-best third place in the season-ending Chevy 500.

"Andretti Green is a fantastic team," Wheldon said on receiving his award, "Michael Andretti is a tough boss, but he's good. I enjoyed it a lot, and I'm looking forward to next year."

 

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