Czech Roman Kresta had a bit of extra encouragement at last weekend's Sanremo Rally when F1 rookie and fellow Czech Tomas Enge turned up to give his fellow countryman some extra support.

Enge and Kresta have a lot in common in spite of competing in two different motorsport disciplines. Not only are they the same age, but they are both competing in motorsport worlds which until now were "prohibitive" for people of Eastern European origin.

The former recently had his debut in a Formula One race and thus made history as the first Czech and Eastern European to enter the glamorous world of F1. The latter made his debut last weekend, running alongside the world's top rally drivers, his first competition driving for a factory team in the prestigious WRC category.

The revolutionary debuts came hot on each other's heels and they share many similarities. The ticket for Tomas Enge to enter the world of F1 was this year's successful season in F3000, a season which he quit early after receiving his dream drive offer. Kresta too interrupted his Czech rally season, after clinching the rally championship title with two events to go and then being offered the chance to sample the rally premiere league.

Enge stepped on the grid of a F1 race for the first time in one of the most revered "monasteries" of motorsport - in Monza, Italy. He waved colours of four times F1 World Championship winner, Alain Prost's team. Kresta set out for his big race three weeks later some 300 km from the scene of Enge's debut - in San Remo, host to round 11 of the 2001 World Rally Championship.

Tomas Enge arrived in San Remo in a black Skoda Octavia RS, a sports breed of the popular Octavia car, which is the basis of Kresta's racing mark - the Octavia WRC. Well, the Octavia RS may have less HP than his F1 car, but Enge appreciates its sport spirit. But why did he visit San Remo?

Enge said: "I am quite interested in rallies anyway, and I have been for a long time. It is not the first time I have been to a World Rally. If I had been given the chance myself I would really have liked to drive a rally car. I have been following Roman over the stages and I have been keeping my fingers crossed. He is doing very well. Having been a first timer myself I can imagine what Roman is going through."

The talented young driver found time to support Kresta because the San Remo Rally fell between Indianapolis and Japan. Enge said: "I have never driven in the Suzuka circuit. It will be something new, I need to find the right driving line and I will be watching the big guys. For Roman it's the same thing, you need to find a driving style and you simply do not have as much confidence as the big guys."

The driver, who followed Kresta's stages from a helicopter with World Rally promoter David Richards, joked that there were similarities between rallying and F1: "Yes, both cars have four wheels and an engine!" Kresta is disappointed that he has not yet found an opportunity to return the compliment and see Enge race in F1. He said: "It has been really good to have the support of Tomas. I am very proud that the Czech Republic has its first F1 driver, and I am especially happy that I know him."