2019 Sunoco Challenge winners Linus Lundquist and Kyle Reid made their mark on the historic Daytona International Speedway, taking part in the ‘Roar Before The 24’ ahead of the 2018 Rolex 24 Hours and showing impressive speed, despite neither having visited the circuit before.
Sunoco 240 Challenge winner Kyle was the first to hit the track in a BMW M4 GT4, resplendent in a striking blue chrome with Sunoco yellow colour scheme. The 2018 Mini Challenge Cooper Pro champion got up to speed with the 3.0 litre, 431 BHP machine, methodically working through the team’s schedule, building his confidence each time out. In the final session he completed a qualifying run on low fuel with new tyres and was on race pace, a great way to finish the weekend.
The ‘Roar’ also presented BRDC British Formula 3 Champion Linus with his first opportunity to meet the team and acclimatise to his new car, the awesome Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO. He had his first opportunity to sit in the Precision Performance Motorsport-run car on Thursday, hitting the track for his first laps a day later. He wasted no time and very quickly asserted himself as the fastest driver in the car, utilising the advice of former Sunoco Challenge winner and Lamborghini factory driver Phil Keen, who was also testing at the circuit.
The super Swede had his final run in the car on Saturday during the evening test session, allowing him to experience the 31-degree banking for the first time under floodlights. Having completed several trouble-free runs in the car over the four test sessions Linus can be happy with his performance, setting consistently quick times as he worked with the team and his team-mates to dial the car into the circuit.
The 2019 race is a significant one with many milestones being achieved. IMSA is celebrating 50 years of close racing, Anglo American Oils is 20 years old, and the Sunoco Whelen Challenge programme has clocked up ten years.
The drivers now head to Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre where they will be attending Autosport International on Thursday 10th January, participating in a press conference at 11:00 on the Anglo-American Oil stand (number 1230) in Hall One. This will be followed by an appearance on the main stage for the drivers and Managing Director Anders Hildebrand, where they will discuss the ‘Roar’ and ten years of the programme at 14:30.
Linus Lundqvist, 2019 Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion:
“It’s an impressive circuit; your body gets really compressed on the high banks and that was quite an unusual but cool feeling! It was also the first time for me using spotters and, while it took me some time to get used to, in the end you start to realise that it’s actually very useful. It’s been an important test for me, trying out the car and track for the first time. All in all, it’s been a good couple of days, and I’ve enjoyed working with the team. I can’t wait to be back for the race in a few weeks’ time.”
Kyle Reid, 2019 Sunoco 240 Challenge Champion:
“It has been an amazing experience. It has been a steep learning curve for me with a new car, new team, and a new circuit, but I’m really happy with the way things have gone. The team couldn’t be nicer and the BMW M4 GT4 is a brilliant car to drive. I did some simulator sessions before we came over so I would know what I was letting myself in for which really helped, but it can’t prepare you for your first visit to Daytona because it is just such a special place. This really has been a once in a lifetime trip and this is only the Roar! I can’t wait for the race.”
Anders Hildebrand, Anglo American Oil Company Ltd Managing Director:
“Both drivers have performed extremely well. We know Linus is a top-flight driver, but he had to take a step back because the Lamborghini GT3 EVO GTD is much softer, much heavier, and rolls much more, but I must say he has coped really well. He was very quickly on par with other drivers and I think we’ll see him improving his times even more come the race.
“Kyle did really, really well. I always say, ‘you don’t need to prove you’re fast’. The Roar is so you can learn the track, get yourself happy with the team and car, and for Kyle it was a huge step going from a 130bhp Mini Cooper to over 400bhp, with downforce and rear wheel drive in his BMW. He did a qualifying run and was bang on the pace.”
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 season’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion will win a fully funded drive aboard a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO in the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona. The Sunoco 240 Challenge champion will contest the 240-minute BMW Endurance Challenge At Daytona support race held over the same January weekend at the wheel of a Sunoco-liveried BMW M4 GT4 car.