Thrilling season-long battle for once-in-a-lifetime Daytona drive comes down to Donington Decider

The Sunoco Whelen Challenge will come down to the wire at Donington Park in two weeks’ time (September 14/15), as a three-way battle to race at the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona will finally be settled.

Clement Novalak and Johnathan Hoggard, both front-runners in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship, have consistently been at the sharp end of the Challenge standings this season. However, Ayrton Simmons has been within touching distance of the top spot with a consistent run of late, coupled with outstanding weekends at Spa and Silverstone.

The three drivers are separated by just five average points heading into the final two races, so a strong or disappointing weekend could swing things one final time. Currently, with the lead, Hoggard simply has to maximise his performance to remain on top, which is exactly what the teenager will be trying to do as he attempts to overhaul a 52-point gap in the BRDC F3 standings.

Novalak, meanwhile, is in an interesting position. Needing to simply stay in touch with Hoggard to ensure he remains on top of the championship would net him the BRDC F3 title but would not be enough to vault him back into top spot in the Sunoco Whelen Challenge. Therefore, he cannot rest if he wants to compete at the Daytona International Speedway in January.

For Simmons, things are clearer. He needs to top the times in qualifying to tie Hoggard in the Jack Cavill Pole Position cup, and with a 61-point deficit to Novalak in the championship, also needs a strong weekend to cause an upset. If he can achieve this then he could just steal the Challenge title in the process.

Whatever way it pans out at Donington Park in September, it has definitely been another fantastic Sunoco Whelen Challenge with three talented young drivers aiming to emulate 2018 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship victor Linus Lundqvist in appearing in the legendary Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Johnathan Hoggard, first place, 85.36 average points

“The BRDC British Formula 3 Championship is going well and I’m currently leading the Sunoco Whelen Challenge too. I am looking forward to seeing how it is going to pan out. I have been quite good at getting pole positions and points for fastest laps in the races so I’m looking forward to the final rounds of the season at Donington Park.

“Winning would be a good opportunity. Racing at Daytona would be different to driving a single-seater and having never raced in America it would be a great experience and open up a lot of opportunities. I want to win the drive and I’m going to give it my everything.”

Clement Novalak, second place, 82.14 average points

“It would be a cracking experience to drive around Daytona and race for 24 Hours. It would mean a lot, obviously, but we have to finish the work here first. We have been very consistent this season, with a few wins and lots of podiums, so hopefully we can keep doing that.

“Finishing the year on top would make me happy. Winning the Challenge would give you lots of exposure and people look at you as a driver for the future whether in the States or Europe. Winning the championship and the Challenge would help me move forwards to next year. It puts your name on the map wherever you are.”

Ayrton Simmons, third place, 80.36 points

“The step up from Formula 4 has been good. I think I have adapted well to a new car and some new circuits, so I am looking forward to the end of the season.

“The Sunoco Whelen Challenge is something I keep an eye on every weekend because it has an important prize at the end of it. Going to the States and racing there would put your name on the map. I haven’t raced in the US before so it would be cool to see how things work out there. I’m going to be pushing to get that Daytona drive and I’ll be giving it my all.”

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 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona, courtesy of Whelen. Sunoco’s 240 Challenge champion will contest Daytona’s 240-minute BMW Endurance Challenge 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.

Sunoco Whelen Challenge-eligible series:

BRDC British Formula 3 Championship
British GT Championship – GT3 Pro and GT4 Pro

Sunoco 240 Challenge-eligible series:

British GT Championship – GT3 Am and GT4 Am
F3 Cup
GT Cup Championship
Mini Challenge – JCW and Cooper Pro
Radical UK Challenge
Ginetta GT5 Challenge
Ginetta G40 Cup
Touring Car Trophy / TCR UK

Summer shake up for Sunoco Challenges as Goodman and Simmons make progress

Once again, It is all change at the top of the Sunoco Whelen Challenge and Sunoco 240 Challenge standings, with only a few points separating the top of both after an enthralling few weeks of racing.

It is still almost impossible to tell who will come out on top to win those Rolex 24 At Daytona and BMW Endurance Challenge At Daytona drives as the thrilling battles to lead the standings continue.

Sunoco Whelen Challenge: Simmons remains in contention

BRDC British Formula 3 Championship drivers continue to remain the focal point of the Sunoco Whelen Challenge. Series leader Clement Novalak returns to the top of the standings thanks to a podium finish in Belgium.

Hot on his heels is rival Ayrton Simmons who had an outstanding weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, taking a win, a podium, and two pole positions, which puts him right back in contention with only one and a half average points separating him and Clement.

A difficult weekend for Johnathan Hoggard has pushed him into third place despite his perfect point-scoring weekend at Donington Park, but a strong trip to Brands Hatch could change that quite quickly. Jonny Cocker, in the British GT Championship, is only two average points behind Johnathan after he finished seventh in GT3 at Spa, with Seb Priaulx fifth after a sixth-place finish in GT4 in the same contest.

Click here for the complete Sunoco Whelen Challenge standings.

Sunoco 240 Challenge: Carey remains on top whilst Goodman jumps to third.

It could not be closer in the Sunoco 240 Challenge where Cian Carey holds onto the lead despite no track action over the last few weeks. However, it remains an extremely tight fight for the top spot as Robbie Dalgleish closed the gap to Cian with only 1.96 average points between the pair after the Mini Challenge Cooper Pro driver stood on each step of the podium in three races at Brands Hatch.

Toby Goodman has vaulted himself into third place after a superb weekend in Kent as well. He took two wins and a third place, as well as a pole position, to move 0.12 average points ahead of Dominik Jackson, who bounced back from a DNF in race one at Oulton Park to take a win and second place in the Radical Challenge Championship, keeping his hopes alive.

Another driver on the move is British GT Championship competitor Kelvin Fletcher. He leaps ahead of Scott McKenna, who has not raced in the previous few weeks. Just five average points cover fifth to 11th in the standings, so a strong weekend for Jerome De Sadeleer, Nathan Harrison, Rob Keogh, James Gornall, or Alastair Barclay will bring them right back into the mix.

Click here for the complete Sunoco 240 Challenge standings.

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 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona, courtesy of Whelen. Sunoco’s 240 Challenge champion will contest Daytona’s 240-minute BMW Endurance Challenge 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.

Sunoco Whelen Challenge-eligible series:

BRDC British Formula 3 Championship
British GT Championship – GT3 Pro and GT4 Pro

Sunoco 240 Challenge-eligible series:

British GT Championship – GT3 Am and GT4 Am
F3 Cup
GT Cup Championship
Mini Challenge – JCW and Cooper Pro
Radical UK Challenge
Ginetta GT5 Challenge
Ginetta G40 Cup
Touring Car Trophy / TCR UK

Sunoco Challenge winners Lundquist and Reid impress on Daytona debuts

Kyle Reid set some impressive time on his Daytona debut in the Roar before the 24

Kyle Reid set some impressive time on his Daytona debut in the Roar before the 24

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.

Sunoco Challenge Winners At Daytona 2018

In January we went over to Daytona International Speedway with Sunoco Challenge winners Rick Parfitt Jnr and Stuart Middleton to take on the 2018 edition of the awesome Rolex 24hr Race.

Experience what it takes to become a Sunoco Challenge Champion, and how it feels to drive on the world famous banking for the first time!

This film follows the Rick & Stuart’s progress at Daytona 2018, after winning the biggest competition in European Motorsport…….who will it be in 2019??