Several new drivers have emerged as Sunoco Whelen and 240 Challenge contenders in recent weekends following the start of all eligible championships’ 2018 seasons.
Mini Challenge Cooper Pro class front-runner Kyle Reid has vaulted to the top of the Sunoco 240 Challenge standings thanks to a dominant display at Donington Park, while Stuart Moseley occupies third in the Whelen points following Radical European Masters’ first outing of the year.
Whelen: Moseley up and running but Keen remains well clear
British GT Championship leader and 2015 Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Phil Keen continues to top the senior standings on 112.75 points, a total he could add to at Rockingham this weekend.
He’s joined on the same bill by nearest rivals and BRDC British F3 title contenders Nicolai Kjaergaard and Linus Lundqvist, who are currently 10.25 and 25.25 points further back.
However, the latter now shares third with last season’s Whelen runner-up Stuart Moseley who began his Radical European Masters SR3 campaign in impressive fashion at Estoril on April 13-15. Indeed, only a lack of entries and resulting loss of points prevented the Briton from making more of an impact on the Sunoco leaderboard after claiming all three pole positions and fastest laps, as well as two race victories.
Moseley’s 87.5 total is 5.25 points more than Brad Smith’s, whose strong LMP3 Cup form was similarly tempered by the low turnout at Donington last weekend. Two fastest laps and pole positions plus a win and fourth pace see the Mactech Motorsport driver slot into fifth.
The rest of the top-10 remains unchanged, with the first of British GT4’s Pro contingent, Ben Barnicoat, occupying sixth ahead of Yelmer Buurman, Scott Malvern, Jack Mitchell and Darren Turner. Colin Noble, who finished third in last year’s Whelen standings, is 12th at this early stage after beginning his LMP3 Cup campaign at Donington.
240: Impressive Reid serves notice
In contrast to its Whelen counterpart, the start of new seasons for several eligible series has resulted in considerable changes to the Sunoco 240 Challenge’s top-10 over the last two weeks.
Erstwhile leader Ant Whorton-Eales remains very much in contention on 120 points, but the Mini Challenge JCW ace’s total is now only good enough for third following Kyle Reid and Steve Burgess’ impressive first outings of 2018.
Mini Challenge racer Reid served notice of his 240 and Cooper Pro class title aspirations by dominating the championship’s opening weekend at Donington where a rare maximum score was only denied by Simon Walton recording Race 2’s fastest lap.
Nevertheless, his 130 points were still 8.33 more than Burgess scored in the first three races of this year’s Radical UK Challenge last weekend. Two wins, fastest laps and pole positions, plus another podium, leave him 1.67 points clear of Whorton-Eales, while Stephen Daly has slotted into fourth courtesy of a strong F3 Cup opener at Brands Hatch.
Jordan Collard, Adam Balon and Jon Minshaw all move down three places but have an opportunity to build on their 100+ scores this weekend at Rockingham, while Burgess’ Radical Challenge rival Dominic Jackson is eighth after adding a pole position to his podium haul at Donington. Shane Kelly (F3 Cup) and Jerome De Sadelier (Radical Challenge) complete the top-10.
This weekend sees British GT3 and GT4 drivers, plus those from BRDC British F3 and Mini Challenge JCW, battling it out for Sunoco Challenge points at Rockingham.
What are the Sunoco Challenges?
The Sunoco Challenges provide an accurate assessment and comparison of performances across multiple championships during any given season. Points are awarded for qualifying and race results, including fastest lap, which are then converted into an individual average score for each competing driver over the course of a full campaign.
That means each race weekend offers drivers an equal chance to climb and drop down their respective Sunoco Challenge table. It also ensures that performances are taken into consideration across an entire season while placing less emphasis on one-off or unfair results.
This year’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion will win a fully funded race seat at the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona, courtesy of Whelen.
Meanwhile, Sunoco’s 240 Challenge champion will contest Daytona’s 240-minute Continental Tire SportsCar Championship support race held over the same January weekend at the wheel of a Sunoco-supported GT4 car.
The Sunoco Challenges are organised by Sunoco Racing Fuels’ official European distributor, Anglo American Oil Company Ltd.
To celebrate the Sunoco Whelen Challenge’s 10th anniversary AAOC is allowing all previous winners to enter once again. Ordinarily Bradley Smith (2014), Phil Keen (2015) and Jonny Adam (2016) would have been ineligible to fight for a second trip to Daytona.
Sunoco Whelen Challenge-eligible series
BRDC British Formula 3 Championship
British GT Championship – GT3 Pro and GT4 Pro
LMP3 Cup – Pro
Radical European Masters – SR3 Pro and SR8 Pro
Sunoco 240 Challenge-eligible series
Britcar Endurance Championship
British GT Championship – GT3 Am and GT4 Am
F3 Cup Championship
GT Cup Championship
LMP3 Cup – Am
Mini Challenge – JCW and Cooper Pro
Radical European Masters – SR3 Am and SR8 Am