Smith Takes A Whelen Tumble As Burgess Slashes Reid’s 240 Advantage

Outings for a number of Sunoco 240 Challenge-eligible series have resulted in a few significant changes at the competition’s sharp end in recent weeks as the 2018 campaign begins to hit its stride. However, it’s still Mini Challenge Cooper’s early pace-setter Kyle Reid who continues to lead an incredibly competitive top-10 from Steve Burgess and Ant Whorton-Eales.

Meanwhile, the ‘senior’ Sunoco Whelen Challenge is set for another crucial weekend at Snetterton following a reasonably quiet fortnight.

 Whelen: Smith tumbles to fringes of top-10

With the majority of the top-10 not in action until this weekend, all eyes were on LMP3 Cup contender Brad Smith at Brands Hatch last Saturday and Sunday. Two fastest laps plus a second and third would have ordinarily helped to consolidate his fifth place in the Whelen standings, but such was the low turnout that the Mectech Motorsport driver actually dropped five positions and almost 20 points.

BRDC British F3 ace Linus Lundqvist therefore maintains his place atop the standings ahead of this weekend’s outing in Norfolk. The Swede is just one point clear of British GT3 Pro and 2015 Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Phil Keen who, in turn, enjoys a 3.67-point advantage over title rival Yelmer Buurman. Stuart Mosely, 10.25 marks further back in fourth, resumes his Radical European Masters campaign at Spa-Francorchamps on June 9/10.

240: Burgess closes on Reid

 Brands Hatch was the place to be for Sunoco 240 Challenge categories last weekend when Radical UK Challenge, F3 Cup and GT Cup all staged rounds at the Kent venue.

Mini Challenge Cooper’s outing seven days earlier at Snetterton had seen Kyle Reid maintain his excellent start by bagging all three victories, two fastest laps and a pole position. However, such was his even better season opener at Donington that the SCK Motorsport driver actually dropped from 130 points to 124.

While still a very impressive total after five races, it did at least give nearest rival Steve Burgess a chance to capitalise. An average of 120 for the weekend thanks to three Radical UK Challenge wins and as many fastest laps allowed him to do just that, with 3.17 points now separating the pair after the same number of races.

Mini Challenge JCW duo Ant Whorton-Eales and Jordan Collard both have another chance to make further inroads this weekend at Snetterton after already benefitting from Stephen Daly’s Brands Hatch non-score, which cost the F3 Cup driver 46.67 points and 12 places.

Two podiums and fastest laps left Radical UK Challenge’s Dominic Jackson with the same total as he began the weekend – 88.33 – while British GT3 Am Lee Mowle – currently just 0.33 points behind Jackson – has two more points-scoring opportunities this weekend at Snetterton. The same goes for leading British GT4 Am contender Kelvin Fletcher who picked up two places in the overall standings at the expense of Daly and fellow F3 Cup driver Shane Kelly.

Jon Minshaw is eighth, one place and just 0.33 points ahead of F3 Cup’s new leading contender Stuart Wiltshire, who recorded a victory and second place at Brands Hatch.

 

 

 

Burgess Seals Brands Hatch Hat-Trick

Brands Hatch, Kent – Sunday 20 May 2018; Steve Burgess continued his Radical Challenge winning streak with a hat-trick of race victories in the second round battles around the Brands Hatch GP circuit. The RAW Motorsports man nearly didn’t have it all his own way as Dominik Jackson came agonisingly close to taking his maiden career win whilst four different drivers occupied the rest of the podium throughout the three-race weekend.
 
Race 1

Burgess began his winning ways with a satisfying third victory of his 2018 campaign on Saturday afternoon, in a race which saw nothing to choose between the top three championship protagonists.

Although Burgess led from pole, Jackson and Jérôme de Sadeleer refused to allow the 2016 Champion to gain any advantage, with the trio running equidistant just a few tenths of a second apart for much of the shortened 20-minute race. As the leading three pulled clear of the pack, the order remained unchanged until the final corner of the final lap when, in an attempt to secure second at the flag, de Sadeleer ran wide and ended his race in the Clearways tyre wall.

Continuing his strong qualifying performance, Marcello Marateotto led the fight for fourth, leaving him perfectly placed to pick up the final podium position. Brian Murphy and Kristian Jeffrey vied for fifth place, Jeffries eventually making a stellar move stick at Surtees on lap five.

With fierce battles up and down the 20-car field, Elliot Goodman pulled off a superb pass on Spencer Bourne into Paddock Hill Bend to take sixth with five minutes remaining. Behind them, a six-car battle for ninth came to a head at Druids on the penultimate tour, resulting in John Caudwell losing the Team class lead to Peter Tyler.

Race 2

Jackson was denied his maiden Radical Challenge win on Sunday morning, despite leading from lights to flag. The RAW Motorsports charge was judged to have jumped the start, the resulting 10 second penalty dropping him to third, leaving Burgess to pick up win number two.

Whilst Jackson romped away at the lights, Burgess didn’t get the best of starts leaving the championship leader with it all to do heading into Paddock Hill Bend. Securing second, a jostling pack behind saw de Sadeleer take to the gravel but able to re-join at the back of the field. John Caudwell wasn’t so fortunate and with Brian Caudwell’s car beached across the inside kerb at Druids, an early safety car was required.

Clean away at the restart with 14 minutes remaining, Jackson led from Burgess and Marateotto. Unaware of Jackson’s impending penalty, Burgess was relentless in the pursuit of his teammate and threatened to send it up the inside on more than one occasion, but Jackson remained undeterred.

Marateotto crossed the line third on-track but moved up to the second step of the podium ahead of Jackson. Jeffrey, making his GP circuit debut, finished fourth despite also jumping the start. Brian Murphy mirrored his race one result to pick up points for fifth ahead of Spencer Bourne.

Race 3

Starting from pole for the final 40-minute endurance race, Jackson threatened to once again spoil Burgess’ party. Running side-by-side from the rolling start and down the Brabham Straight, Jackson managed to seize the initiative at Paddock Hill Bend but Burgess remained glued to his rear bumper throughout the opening stint.

The gap ebbed and flowed as Burgess overheated his tyres and had to drop back and re-group before attacking once more, but an off-track moment from Jackson at Stirlings on lap 12 was all the invitation Burgess needed to surge through. Although Jackson recovered well, a lengthy pit stop meant Burgess sailed clear to the flag whilst Jackson took important points for fourth.

With the leading duo setting a blistering pace from the off, the intense battle for third between Murphy, Brian Caudwell, de Sadeleer, Jeffrey and Richard Baxter ran right to the pit stops. Caudwell came out on top and pushed on to pass Baxter the following tour to secure second.

Although Baxter finished third on the road, a penalty for speeding in the pit lane dropped him outside the top 10, gifting Jeffrey the final podium position.

Goodman was once again on form to finish fifth, having started from 12th on the grid, while Barry Liversidge notched up his best result of the season so far in sixth.

Peter Tyler and Tom Gladdis managed a clean sweep of Team class wins across the weekend, heading John Caudwell and Stuart Moseley in race three.

Driver quotes:

Steve Burgess (Winner all races): “That was a perfect weekend, pole and the three wins, it can’t get much better, can it? I think I had the legs on Dom (Jackson) by a fraction but it’s hard to pass here. I kept overheating the tyres following him too close so I kept backing off and going again and he then made a mistake out the back and I managed to get by.”

Brian Caudwell (Second race three): “It was excellent, it’s been a long time waiting. I’ve had a fairly tough year so far. I knew I was never going to win as Steve has a lot more pace on me, but I’m really happy. I look in the top ten now and there’s guys finishing in ninth, tenth, eleventh and they’re podium finishers. It’s fiercely contested at the minute.”

Dominik Jackson (Second race One, third race two): “There wasn’t much in it during race one, we were all setting nearly identical times. It was a shame in race two as I was rolling slightly and got a penalty. But I still managed to take third with the penalty so it’s not too bad considering.”

Marcello Marateotto (Third race one, second race two): “At my age you have to be happy if they let you start and if you finish on the podium then it’s an excellent weekend! I was able to watch the guys at the front fighting each other but I wasn’t able to challenge. I’ve still got some work to do on the car and myself.”

Kristian Jeffrey (Third race three): “It was a good weekend, considering I didn’t have the pace of the front runners. I’m happy to come out top five in all three races. You guys should be happy the Caribbean bought the weather! The team really worked hard on the car making me more comfortable throughout the weekend. We got better and better each race but it just wasn’t enough.”

-Ends-

Kyle Reid Continues His Winning Run

Can Kyle Reid continue his run of wins? Yes! He took just 1 lap to reel Robbie Dalgleish in. Kyle had a mix of wets and dry tyres on while Robbie had full wets. More grip initially but with a drying circuit, Kyle had made the right choice in Rubber. Kyle led for the rest of the race. Simon Walton gave him a good run for his money but 3rd was as high he could climb.

In the Am class, Alex Nevill was giving a clean pair of heels to Andy Godfrey who in turn was keeping Neal Clarke and Gary Papworth in check. Adrian Norman meanwhile was putting in the fastest lap of the class. Now if only he could string a few of those together. At the chequered flag, it was a predictable finish.

Race 1 Results
Pro:
P1: Kyle Reid
P2: Robbie Dalgleish
P3: Simon Walton

Am:
P1: Alex Neville
P2: Andy Godfrey
P3: Neal Clarke

Race 2
Weather Cloudy/dry

A not so good start to the race with a red flag so soon after the start. Oli O’Neill and Charlie Cooper having a coming together on the first bend. The track staff and Marshals quickly recovered the cars, the cars were restarted after a 10-minute delay. Kyle again shot off but was quickly outmanoeuvred by Simon Walton. Only for Kyle to get the lead back in the next lap to again be outmanoeuvred in the same place. Kyle again took the lead back but made it stick. Great to watch. Meanwhile, with these 2 playing tag, Robbie Dalgleish and Jacob Andrews were gaining on them. It was not long before Robbie attacked and Simon took to the infield and dropped down the order.

In Am class, Alex Nevill was making look too easy with total class dominance, with Andy Godfrey and Neil Clarke in close proximity. Adrian Norman took Gary Papworth and would let him pass. Darryl Brown, Elspeth Rodgers and Keir McConomy bring up the rear.

Result Race 2
Pro:
P1: Kyle Reid
P2: Robbie Dalgleish
P3: Jacob Andrews

Am:
P1: Alex Neville
P2: Andy Godfrey
P3: Neal Clarke

Race 3
Weather Bright/Dry

Can he make it 3 out of 3 for the weekend? Can he keep his unbroken run of wins up? Yes and Yes. Even a reversed grid could not hold him back. From P5 to P2 in the first lap with Simon Walton out in front again having been pole. The penultimate lap saw Kyle overtake and stay in front. Richard Newman had been playing a waiting game and he too took Simon for a well-deserved P2 from Jacob Andrews.

In Am class, Alex Nevill scored his hattrick of wins with total domination of the class. This time Andy Godfrey had to let Gary Papworth go and get P2 while he still had 3 podiums for the weekend. All over too quickly. With all starters finishing an enjoyable sprint around the Snetterton 300 circuit.

Kyle Reid travels back to Scotland successfully defending his unbeaten run. Andy Godfrey and Alex Nevill keeping the podium to themselves.

All is looking good for Silverstone on the short National Circuit, in a few weeks time.,

240: Victories Keep Whorton-Eales In The Hunt

Dominant opening weekends for Kyle Reid and Steve Burgess ensured that Mini Challenge JCW and British GT Am front-runners were unable to overhaul the Mini Cooper and Radical Challenge drivers’ totals at Rockingham. However, several remain in contention should either of the early pace-setters falter next time out.

Two victories and a pole position represent a good return by anyone’s standard. However, a higher average at Oulton Park actually saw Ant Whorton-Eales lose ground in the 240 standings to not only Reid and Burgess but also F3 Cup driver Stephen Daly. Nevertheless, the JCW ace’s new total of 113.33 – reduced by 6.67 marks – still represents an excellent return from the first two weekends.

Indeed, current leader Reid – as well as Burgess and Daly – must maintain incredibly high standards throughout the campaign if they’re to fend off Whorton-Eales and fellow JCW title challenger Jordan Collard who remains fifth in the 240 standings, albeit with 13.33 fewer points than at the start of Rockingham’s race weekend.

British GT3 race winner Lee Mowle increased his average by 11 points to move up six places to seventh behind Radical Challenge racer Dominic Jackson, who also inherited a spot without turning a wheel. That was partly thanks to Jon Minshaw dropping from seventh to 10th following a frustrating British GT3 outing.

Minshaw’s misfortune also promoted F3 Cup’s Shane Kelly to eighth and partly helped British GT4’s Kelvin Fletcher, who climbed from 18th to ninth with a much-improved 86.17 average score courtesy of the class’ fastest amateur lap and Pro/Am podium.

But there was also disappointment for fellow GT4 Am Adam Balon who dropped from sixth to 12th overall.

British F3’s Lundqvist Stakes His Daytona Claim At Rockingham

 

British GT, Mini Challenge JCW and BRDC British Formula 3 all staged their latest rounds last weekend at Rockingham where the latter’s Linus Lundqvist surged into the Sunoco Whelen Challenge lead.

Meanwhile, both Ant Whorton-Eales and Jordan Collard consolidated their status as Sunoco 240 Challenge contenders by again dominating the JCW class’ latest outing.

 Whelen: Lundqvist leaps into top-spot

A stellar weekend for Linus Lundqvist at Rockingham not only helped the Swede take the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship lead but also head the race for 2019’s Rolex 24 At Daytona prize drive.

Two of British F3’s races carry Sunoco Whelen Challenge points, and Lundqvist made both count courtesy of a victory, second place, pole position and fastest lap. That took his season’s average score to 100, 12.5 more than he achieved at the opening round earlier this month.

Lundqvist therefore leads Phil Keen by just one point after the British GT3 Pro suffered a mixed bag at Rockingham where points for pole position helped boost a relatively modest sixth place finish. However, his overall average was still cut by 13.75 points.

Mercedes-AMG factory driver Yelmer Buurman enjoyed a solid first British GT appearance at Oulton Park but announced himself as a genuine Whelen contender by winning from the back of the GT3 grid at Rockingham. The 100 points earned for doing so took his season’s average to 95.33, 7.83 more than fourth placed Stuart Moseley (Radical Masters SR8) and another 5.25 clear of Brad Smith (LMP3 Cup), neither of whom were in action last weekend.

Four of the top-10’s remaining places are now also filled by British GT drivers, Darren Turner’s GT3 podium helping him climb four positions to sixth ahead of GT4 race winner Patrik Matthiesen whose new class lap record also helped increase the Dane’s average by 33 points.

Jonny Adam and Callum Macleod are ninth and 10th, the latter moving up 10 places thanks to a GT3 rostrum, but both remain behind British F3’s Nicolai Kjaergaard despite the Dane’s average total being cut by 30 points.

240: Victories keep Whorton-Eales in the hunt

Dominant opening weekends for Kyle Reid and Steve Burgess ensured that Mini Challenge JCW and British GT Am front-runners were unable to overhaul the Mini Cooper and Radical Challenge drivers’ totals at Rockingham. However, several remain in contention should either of the early pace-setters falter next time out.

Two victories and a pole position represent a good return by anyone’s standard. However, a higher average at Oulton Park actually saw Ant Whorton-Eales lose ground in the 240 standings to not only Reid and Burgess but also F3 Cup driver Stephen Daly. Nevertheless, the JCW ace’s new total of 113.33 – reduced by 6.67 marks – still represents an excellent return from the first two weekends.

Indeed, current leader Reid – as well as Burgess and Daly – must maintain incredibly high standards throughout the campaign if they’re to fend off Whorton-Eales and fellow JCW title challenger Jordan Collard who remains fifth in the 240 standings, albeit with 13.33 fewer points than at the start of Rockingham’s race weekend.

British GT3 race winner Lee Mowle increased his average by 11 points to move up six places to seventh behind Radical Challenge racer Dominic Jackson, who also inherited a spot without turning a wheel. That was partly thanks to Jon Minshaw dropping from seventh to 10th following a frustrating British GT3 outing.

Minshaw’s misfortune also promoted F3 Cup’s Shane Kelly to eighth and partly helped British GT4’s Kelvin Fletcher, who climbed from 18th to ninth with a much-improved 86.17 average score courtesy of the class’ fastest amateur lap and Pro/Am podium.

But there was also disappointment for fellow GT4 Am Adam Balon who dropped from sixth to 12th overall.

 

 

Whorton-Eales Hits The Hat-Trick

Ant Whorton-Eales couldn’t have hoped for a better start to this year’s MINI CHALLENGE JCW Championship, having racked up his third win on the bounce in a disrupted second race at Rockingham.

The win looked in doubt when AW-E drew the maximum number for the reversed grid, meaning he’d start back in eighth. But trouble for many of his rivals essentially handed Whorton-Eales yet another win.

Henry Neal should have started on pole, but his car lost drive shortly after he pulled away from the line to start the green flag lap, meaning the disappointed polesitter had to be towed off the track.

That left Lawrence Davey as the sole starter from the front row, but even he didn’t get the best launch. AW-E did, and was already up to fourth by the time the pack ran into Turn One, and then found himself in the lead when Davey and his closest challengers ran wide at Deene on the brakes.

The safety car made an appearance after the first tour when Brad Hutchison was spat into the Turn One wall after a tangle in the pack. New, and rather surprised, leader Whorton-Eales controlled the restart well, but the race was soon stopped by red flags after a multi-car tangle on the exit of Turn One.

The accident claimed the hopes of many of the race one protagonists, with Calum King, Luke Reade and James Gornall all removed from contention, alongside others.

With just three laps run, the grid was reformed for a standing start, and AW-E again got away well from pole, chased by Rob Smith, Jordan Collard, Ollie Pidgley, Lewis Brown and Davey.

As Whorton-Eales began to forge a sizable gap ahead, Smith was struggling. “I don’t know what’s going on, perhaps it was because we ran slightly older tyres, but the car didn’t feel that quick,” he said. “It was bumping like mad around Pif-Paf so that made it unsettled on the brakes into Gracelands. I was just hanging on.

First Collard and then Brown deposed Smith, as Nathan Harrison – who had started back in 28th after his race one disappointment – closed in on the top four. With two laps to go Harrison had passed Smith for fourth and latched on to the rear of Brown. He drafted alongside into Deene and secured the final spot on the podium, but ran out of time to do anything about Collard or runaway leader Whorton-Eales.

I like this place, I’ve always gone well around here – perhaps it’s because ovals are in my blood,” beamed AW-E. “I never expected to be into the lead off the first lap. I just got a great start and then the doors just got opened for me when they all went too deep into Deene. I just went straight through. I couldn’t have imagined a getter start to the year.

Collard celebrated another strong weekend with second, but Harrison was a man relieved. “Starting so far back I just needed some points and never thought a podium would be possible,” said Harrison. “It just shows what can happen when you don’t give up and keep pushing. Ant’s on a roll, so recovering a podium here is massive in terms of keeping me in the fight.

Brown, who had started the day 23rd for race one, said fourth was a strong result. “It was so near yet so far from the podium, but I can hardly be unhappy as I’d have definitely taken a P4 at the start of the day,” he said.

Rob Smith wound up fifth ahead of Pidgley, Rory Cuff, Davey and Jac Maybin. Ryan Dignan completed the top 10 ahead of Scott Jeffs, James Loukes, Ben Dimmack and newcomer Louis Doyle.

Reid Tops 240 But Whelen Newcomers Can’t Catch Keen

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 Challenge

Radical European Masters – SR3 Am and SR8 Am

Burgess Doubles up at Donington. De Sadeleer Scores Maiden Win

Donington Park, Leicestershire – Sunday 22 April 2018; Steve Burgess took a brace of Radical Challenge race wins at the season-opening rounds to leave Donington Park at the top of the title table. He shared the weekend spoils with series newcomer, reigning SR1 Cup Champion Jérôme de Sadeleer, who notched up his first victory of his […]

SUNOCO CHALLENGE: KEEN GRABS EARLY WHELEN LEAD AS HAIGH AND BALON SHARE 240 SPOILS AT OULTON PARK

British GT drivers sit atop both Sunoco UK Challenge standings after Oulton Park, with 2015 winner Phil Keen leading the Whelen points, and Flick Haigh and Adam Balon sharing 240’s summit!

📝 SUNOCO CHALLENGE: KEEN GRABS EARLY WHELEN LEAD AS HAIGH AND BALON SHARE 240 SPOILS AT OULTON PARKBritish GT drivers…

Posted by British GT Championship on Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Parfitt Jnr wins 2018 Sunoco 240 Challenge as Hawkins and Hammond fall short at Snetterton

Rick Parfitt Jnr has been crowned the 2018 Sunoco 240 Challenge champion after his only remaining rivals, Jessica Hawkins and Matt Hammond, failed to score enough points during their Mini Challenge Cooper class season finale at Snetterton last weekend.

The prize sees this year’s British GT3 champion travel to South Florida in January to drive a GT4 car in the Rolex 24 At Daytona’s 240-minute BMW Endurance Challenge support race, which is also the opening round of 2018’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. A comprehensive test programme during the traditional ‘Roar Before the Rolex 24’ is included, along with flights and accommodation.

Parfitt Jnr becomes the first amateur to win Sunoco’s 240 competition based on results accrued during a British GT campaign. Equally, he is the series’ first representative to claim the 240 Challenge title after both Team Parker Racing co-driver Seb Morris and Jonny Adam won Whelen’s 2017 and ’16 equivalents, while no other driver has become champion while co-driving with a reigning or former Challenge winner.

2018’s edition will also go down as the closest in Sunoco Whelen and 240 Challenge history, with just 0.42 points separating Parfitt Jnr from Mini Challenge JCW champion Brett Smith in the final reckoning.

Hawkins and Hammond entered their final weekend battling each other for both the Sunoco 240 Challenge crown and Mini Challenge Cooper class title. Each required exceptional outings if they were to score the 375 points (out of a maximum 420) necessary to leapfrog ahead of Parfitt Jnr. As a result, the pair could have prevented each other from winning the Challenge by sharing pole positions, fastest race laps and wins, but ultimately it was Sam Weller who gatecrashed the party by annexing all three victories and a pole position.

Hawkins therefore finished third in the final 240 standings and 6.81 points behind Parfitt Jnr, while Hammond was one place and a further 0.22 marks adrift. However, he did at least do enough to win this year’s Mini Challenge Cooper Pro class title.

Rick Parfitt Jnr, 2018 Sunoco 240 Challenge Champion: “I’m totally over the moon to have won the Sunoco 240 Challenge, which is the icing on the cake of what has been a very tough year for me. I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part and will attempt to do you all proud! What a year it’s been: becoming the first driver to win both a British GT3 and GT4 title, helping Bentley and Team Parker claim their maiden British GT Championship crowns, British GT Pro/Am winner with Seb [Morris] and now the Sunoco 240 Challenge champion – it simply cannot get any better than that! Thank you to everyone who has supported me this year – I am hugely humbled and immensely grateful. Needless to say I can’t wait to race at the incredible Daytona International Speedway and be part of one of the world’s biggest motorsport events.”

Anders Hildebrand, Anglo American Oil Company Ltd Managing Director: “What a season for Rick and the 240 Challenge, which has been incredibly competitive from the very start! A stellar British GT campaign meant he was a contender throughout the year, although finishing one position lower at Donington would have actually seen Brett [Smith] win the competition. That’s how close it’s been! Rick maintains British GT’s recent run of winners, and his experience of both GT3 and GT4 means I’m confident he’ll be immediately on the pace at Daytona in January. I’ve no doubt he’ll be learning as much as he can from Seb [Morris] who performed so well there as our out-going Whelen champion earlier this year. Speaking of which, our attention now switches to the Sunoco Whelen Challenge where Stuart Moseley is aiming to prevent another British GT champion – Stuart Middleton – from winning a fully-funded Cadillac DPi drive in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.”

Moseley – who currently trails Middleton by 7.85 points – will have one more chance to overturn his deficit during Radical European Masters’ Barcelona season finale on October 28/29. He requires 329 points of the maximum 420 available, 120 of which can be banked with three fastest laps and same number of pole positions. That leaves 209 more marks to find across the weekend’s three races. Two seconds and a sixth would, for instance, be enough, but with grid numbers and his co-driver’s performance outside of Moseley’s control, there are no guarantees.

Current Sunoco Whelen Challenge standings

Racer                   Class                  Now           Rounds left        Max points       Min points

Stuart Middleton   British GT4PRO    78.10         finished

Will Tregurtha      British GT4PRO     75.90        finished

Stuart Moseley     Radical Euro         70.25        3                       84.20              56.20

Matt Bell             LMP3 Cup             68.21        finished

Colin Noble Jnr    LMP3 Cup             68.08        finished

Next races:

Snetterton 14-15 Oct     GT Cup / Radical Challenge / Mini Cooper

Oulton 20-21 Oct           Britcar Endurance

Barcelona 27-29 Oct      Radical EuroMasters

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.

As in previous years this season’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion will win a fully funded drive aboard a Whelen-sponsored prototype in the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Meanwhile, Sunoco’s 240 Challenge champion will contest the 240-minute Daytona support race held over the same January weekend at the wheel of a Sunoco-liveried GT4 car.