British F3 Champion Lundqvist Wins 2019 Sunoco Whelen Challenge

Super Swede Now Daytona-Bound For Fully-Funded Rolex 24 Outing

Linus Lundqvist has won the 2019 Sunoco Whelen Challenge after wrapping up this year’s BRDC British F3 Championship drivers’ title at Silverstone yesterday (October 14). The Swede will now make his sportscar racing debut at the legendary Daytona International Speedway this January courtesy of a fully-funded Rolex 24 At Daytona entry supported by Whelen Engineering Inc and Anglo American Oil Company Ltd.

Lundqvist’s victory came at the expense of 2015 prize winner Phil Keen who headed into the weekend just 0.1 point ahead in the standings following another standout British GT campaign. However, his young rival’s perfect first British F3 race at Silverstone, which comprised the maximum 140 points available for pole position, victory and fastest racing lap, was more than enough to initially jump ahead.

Pole for the championship’s second Sunoco Challenge-eligible race then ensured only 15 more points were required to seal the crown. But when adverse weather forced organisers to cancel it, the recalculated average scores gave Lundqvist the edge.

Indeed, Lundqvist finishes the season on 89.67 points, 3.5 points more than Keen and 12.67 points ahead of the 2016 Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner and the newly crowned 2018 British GT Champion Jonny Adam.

Incredibly, Lundqvist’s success was confirmed less than 24 hours after British F3’s last senior Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner, Felipe Nasr, wrapped up 2018’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship crown with the same Whelen-sponsored Action Express Racing squad he tested with prior to his 2013 Daytona prize drive with Mike Shank Racing.

Lundqvist is joined in Daytona by 2018 Mini Challenge Cooper class champion Kyle Reid who will contest the four-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Tire SportsCar Challenge support race as his prize for winning this year’s Sunoco 240 Challenge.

Linus Lundqvist, 2019 Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner: “Going to Daytona is incredible, I’ve never even been to the States to start with! So just being over there, doing my first endurance race and sharing the car with two or three other people will be a totally different experience and from what I’ve heard it’s a really fun thing to do and I’ll learn a lot and it will be an amazing experience.”

Anders Hildebrand, Anglo American Oil Company Ltd: “Congratulations to Linus who emerged as a very strong Sunoco Whelen Challenge candidate early in the season and maintained that form throughout. A perfect score in Silverstone’s first race ensured the Daytona drive was always in his hands thereafter, no matter what the elements threw at him. Felipe Nasr was the last single-seater driver to win the senior Challenge so it’s fitting that Linus could now make his sportscar debut alongside a driver whose own sports-prototype adventure began with Sunoco, Whelen and Action Express Racing back in 2013. His slicks and wings experience, which places more of an emphasis on aero grip, should also come in handy next January, while as a fellow countryman I’m also delighted to crown our first-ever Swedish winner!”

Sunoco Whelen Title Up For Grabs This Weekend!!

It’s crunch time in the 2019 Sunoco Whelen Challenge, which will be decided at Silverstone on 13th/14th October.

It comes down to one weekend, calculators and what happens in the BRDC British F3 Championship. Will it be Sweden’s young up and coming superstar Linus Lundqvist, or Denmark’s sensational Nicolai Kjaergaard, who was on a mission at Donington last time out as Lundqvist’s charge to Daytona faltered.

Can either of these two young BRDC British F3 stars overall the very slender points advantage enjoyed by British GT3 star, and former Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Phil Keen?

Keen will be watching from his armchair as his season is over and he is in the clubhouse with 86.17 points.

In previous years, the winner of the Sunoco Whelen Challenge cannot be eligible for the Challenge a second time. In 2018, it has been different. For this year only – past winners, (Keen and British GT3 Champion – Jonny Adam), have competed for the prize again. Keen has exploited this once in a lifetime opportunity to be in with a chance of revisiting Daytona in January 2019.

What Has to Happen???? – It Is All About The Points!!

To stop Phil Keen, the 2015 Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner, securing another sensational prize in the challenge, both L Lundqvist and Kjaergaard must perform and improve their overall season average scores. To do this the following scenarios need to play out.

Linus Lundqvist needs:

1x win plus 3rd place = 175 points

1x pole plus 1x 2nd plus 1x 3rd = 180 points

2x pole plus 1x 4th plus 1x 3rd = 180 points

2x pole plus 1x fastest lap plus 1x 4th 1x 5th = 180 points

2x pole 2x fastest lap plus 2x 5th = 190 points

For Nicolai Kjaergaard to overall Keen & Lundqvist, he would need to do the following over the course of the whole race weekend:

2x pole, 2x fastest laps, 1x 1st 1x 2nd

That would be 265 points for the young Dane to sensationally snatch the Sunoco Whelen Challenge at the last race of the year.

This year’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion will win a fully funded race seat at the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona, courtesy of Whelen…….but who will it be????

Keen Sensationally Pinches Sunoco Whelen Challenge Lead With One Weekend Remaining

2015 Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Phil Keen is the new Challenge front-runner following a thrilling and unpredictable weekend of racing at Donington Park last weekend that saw erstwhile leader Linus Lundqvist, from Sweden, endure a troubled BRDC Formula 3 outing.

The young Swede headed into the penultimate round with a chance of winning the senior competition’s Rolex 24 At Daytona prize drive thanks to his near-18-point advantage. However, two troubled outings in the Challenge-eligible races resulted in his season’s average reducing by 12.26 marks to 86.07.

Keen, meanwhile, approached his final British GT appearance fully aware that only a victory would maintain his hopes of winning both the GT3 Drivers’ title and Sunoco Whelen Challenge. But while a second win of the season ultimately didn’t deliver the championship, victory and pole position helped increase his season’s average by 5.73 points to move the Barwell Lamborghini driver just 0.1 points ahead of Lundqvist.

The British F3 Championship leader’s difficult weekend was compounded by domestic title rival Nicolai Kjaergaard who kept himself in both the Formula 3 and Sunoco Whelen Challenge title hunt by claiming two wins and a fastest lap across the two eligible races. The Dane’s new improved total of 79.64 points is thus 6.43 shy of Keen’s total.

And so, the Sunoco Whelen Challenge rolls on to Silverstone in three weeks’ time (October 13/14) when Lundqvist and Kjaegaard go head-to-head for the British F3 and senior Sunoco crowns. The former’s task is undoubtedly much simpler: score 175 points from a possible 280. His adversary, on the other hand, requires a near-perfect weekend comprising two pole positions, two fastest laps, a victory and second place while also hoping Lundqvist fails to improve his average. The 265 points earned for those results would also take him above Keen’s current table-topping total.

Watching from home will be Keen, who – as a former winner – ordinarily wouldn’t be eligible to contest another Sunoco Challenge. However, as a celebration of the competition’s 10th anniversary, its organisers – Anglo American Oil Company – allowed all former champions a chance to test themselves once again.

One of them, Jonny Adam, now lies fourth in the standings after wrapping up his third British GT title at Keen’s expense on Sunday. His final average score of 77 points could yet result in two former winners also topping 2019’s standings.

Two more British GT3 Pros – Nicki Thiim and Yelmer Buurman – complete the top-six ahead of Radical racer Stuart Moseley and British GT4’s leading Pro, Charlie Fagg, while the top-10 is rounded out by Marco Sorensen and Patrik Matthiesen.

 

Lundqvist requires:

1x win and 1x 3rd = 175

1x pole, 1x 2nd and 1x 3rd = 180

2x pole, 1x 4th and 1x 3rd = 180

2x pole, 1x fastest lap, 1x 4th and 1x 5th = 180

2x pole, 2x fastest lap and 2x 5th = 190  

Kjaegaard requires:

2x pole, 2x fastest lap, 1x 1st and 1x 2nd = 265 points

Sunoco Whelen Challenge Title Up For Grabs This Weekend

It’s crunch time in the 2019 Sunoco Whelen and 240 Challenges, both of which could be decided in the next 10 days when the remaining contenders compete in BRDC British F3, British GT, Mini Cooper Challenge and Radical UK Challenge events around the UK.

Lundqvist Poised To Seal Daytona Drive At Donington

   

 

Up first it’s the senior competition and a chance for long-time leader Linus Lundqvist to claim the Rolex 24 At Daytona prize drive with a British F3 round to spare. The Swede has been rock solid all season and currently enjoys a 17.89-point lead over former winner Phil Keen who, like Lundqvist, is competing at Donington Park this weekend.

Their respective British GT and F3 title rivals, Jonny Adam and Nicolai Kjaergaard, also retain a chance of winning the Sunoco Whelen Challenge, although both are more than 20 points shy of top spot.

In truth it’s Lundqvist’s competition to lose given both he and Kjaergaard have four races in which to increase (but also decrease) their totals, whereas Keen and Adam – who square off for the British GT3 title this weekend – have only one event with which to improve their scores. All of that will be a foregone conclusion should Lundqvist accumulate the perfect 140 points in both of Donington’s Sunoco Challenge-eligible races before British F3 heads to Silverstone for its season finale on October 13/14.

Whether the coronation waits another three weeks also depends on his rivals’ performances this weekend. Keen and Adam both essentially require perfect scores for pole position, fastest race lap and victory if they’re to apply any pressure on the current leader, while Kjaergaard – who is also aiming to halt Lundqvist’s British F3 title march – must outscore his championship adversary by 71 Sunoco points per race over the remaining four outings. It’s a tall order by anyone’s standards!

NEW Sunoco Challenge – TV Show

The first of the NEW monthly Sunoco Challenge programmes with Peter Windsor and guests launched this week.

The monthly programme will follow the Sunoco Challenge, news and driver updates and much more as the competition heats up and the ultimate prize of a drive at Daytona gets even closer.

The full-length (30min) show is also available on-demand on www.motorsport.tv and watchable on the mobile app (apple and android)

 

 

Keen’s Retirement Helps Lundqvist Extend Whelen Lead At Brands Hatch

Linus Lundqvist took a step closer to competing in the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona after extending his Sunoco Whelen Challenge lead at Brands Hatch last weekend.

British F3 and British GT’s joint event at Brands Hatch represented a penultimate opportunity for Phil Keen to cut Linus Lundqvist’s advantage. But, instead, it was the Carlin driver who left Kent with one hand firmly on the senior competition’s trophy after extending his lead to 17.89 points.

It might have been very different for Keen whose retirement prevented the British GT3 Pro from taking advantage of Lundqvist’s winless weekend. Indeed, the Swede also failed to set a fastest lap or claim pole position for either of the two races that count towards the Sunoco Whelen Challenge, which actually reduced his overall score by almost four points.

Nevertheless, his new 98.33 season average now looks beyond Keen’s reach, while Stuart Moseley will be relying on bigger Radical European Masters grids at the championship’s final two rounds if he’s to potentially collect the maximum number of points still available. He’s now 22.44 marks behind Lundqvist in the overall standings.

Further back, Nicolai Kjaergaard is now just 1.31 points behind Moseley in fourth after claiming a British F3 win, third place and two fastest laps at Brands Hatch, while a who’s-who of world GT stars – Jonny Adam, Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Yelmer Buurman – fill positions five to eight following their latest British GT exploits. Just four points separate the quartet.

British GT4 championship leader Jack Mitchell is best of the championship’s ‘juniors’ in ninth, and British F3 driver Kush Maini completes the top-10.

Lundqvist & Reid Remain On Course For Sunoco Challenge Titles

Linus Lundqvist tightened his grip on this year’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps where the BRDC Formula 3 Championship was joined by British GT. Meanwhile, at Oulton Park, Kyle Reid’s march towards Sunoco’s 240 Challenge was slowed only slightly during the latest Mini Challenge Cooper and JCW rounds.

Whelen: Lundqvist’s Competition To Lose

Linus Lundqvist’s lead now stands at a very healthy 14 points after two victories helped maintain his 102-point season average.

By contrast, Phil Keen scored just 55 points during his British GT3 outing in Belgium, which cut his overall average by 4.58 to 88. That might have been enough to retain second overall but the Barwell driver now requires an exceptional end to his 2018 campaign and a dip in Lundqvist’s form if he’s to become the first-ever two-time Sunoco Challenge winner.

Troubled weekends for several other British GT3 Pros and F3 drivers has allowed Radical European Masters racer Stuart Moseley to move back up to third. However, he will be relying on bigger grids next time out if he’s to apply serious pressure on Keen and Lundqvist ahead.

Lundqvist’s bid for this season’s British F3 crown and Sunoco Whelen Challenge Rolex 24 At Daytona prize drive both benefitted from a poor weekend for Nicolai Kjaergaard who’s now unlikely to recover from his current 68-point season average, while British GT3 Pro team-mates Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim also saw their slim chances effectively ended at Spa. The TF Sport pair are separated by just 0.79 points in fifth and sixth, the latter a position Thiim now shares with British GT title rival and former Whelen winner Jonny Adam.

Yelmer Buurman and Kush Maini both remain inside the top-10 and one place ahead of new British GT4 Championship leader Jack Mitchell whose consecutive class victories have helped improve his season’s average no end.

240: Reid Gives Rivals A Glimmer Of Hope

Kyle Reid’s supreme start to the season ensured even a slight wobble would impact on his high average score, and so it proved for the first time in 2018 at Oulton Park. Nevertheless, extra points for Race 2 pole position and victory ensured his overall score remains a still formidable 116.67.

That’s 14.59 more than Radical Challenge racer Steve Burgess, who wasn’t in action last weekend, and another 3.51 ahead of Mini Challenge JCW championship leader Ant Whorton-Eales who rocketed from eighth to third after improving his average by more than 10 points.

Dominic Jackson, just like Radical rival Burgess, has another chance to make inroads into Reid’s advantage next weekend, while Mini Challenge JCW duo Nathan Harrison and Jordan Collard complete the top-six with 90 and 88.57 points, respectively.

Kelvin Fletcher has slipped from fourth to seventh despite finishing second in British GT4’s Pro/Am class. Robbie Dalgleish (Mini Challenge Cooper), Jon Minshaw (British GT3 Am) and Rob Smith (Mini Challenge JCW) complete the top-10.

Lundqvist & Reid Gear Up For Crunch Sunoco Challenge Weekends

There’s been little change at the top of both Sunoco Challenge standings despite two bumper weekends featuring myriad Whelen and 240-eligible series.

Instead, attention has switched to Spa-Francorchamps and Oulton Park on July 21/22 when both competitions’ current front-runners – Linus Lundqvist and Kyle Reid – continue their respective BRDC British F3 and Mini Challenge Cooper campaigns.

However, that’s not to say recent events have had no impact at all on the pursuit of a fully-funded seat in 2019’s Rolex 24 At Daytona and its official 240-mile GT4 support race.

Indeed, the senior Sunoco Whelen Challenge now appears a two-horse contest between current leader Lundqvist and 2015 winner Phil Keen – currently 9.92 points behind – following Stuart Moseley’s frustrating Radical European Masters outing at the Hungaroring last weekend.

 

Moseley once again demonstrated his undoubted pace en route to a brace of victories, another podium, two pole positions and one fastest lap. However, an entry comprising just five cars meant far fewer marks were available for each of those achievements, which reduced his overall season’s average by almost 10 points. Thus, Moseley’s new 75.89-point total is not only 26.61 lower than Lundqvist’s current benchmark but also only good enough for fifth overall.

The two beneficiaries, Nicolai Kjaergaard and Nicki Thiim, ensure that British F3 and British GT3 Pro drivers now lock out the overall top-four, as well as filling positions six to nine. Patrik Matthiesen is the best placed British GT4 Pro in 10th, while Brad Smith remains LMP3 Cup’s leading contender in 15th despite another low turnout at Spa two weeks ago.

It’s a similar story in the Sunoco 240 Challenge where runaway leader Kyle Reid must continue his incredible start to the Mini Challenge Cooper campaign at Spa next weekend if he’s to once again strengthen an already significant advantage.

The SCK Motorsport driver’s lead has actually increased in recent weeks after both Steve Burgess and Dominic Jackson failed to make inroads during their Radical UK Challenge outing at Spa. Their respective deficits now stand at 21.49 and 26.9 points ahead of Reid’s upcoming assignment at Oulton Park.

A host of leading British GT3 and GT4 Am drivers will also be competing simultaneously at Spa-Francorchamps where Kelvin Fletcher will be eager to continue his recent climb up the rankings. Fletcher has been British GT4’s standout amateur in recent rounds and now lies less than 10 points behind Jackson in fourth.

Robbie Dalgleish has the power to boost his own 240 score while taking points out of Cooper rival Reid when he also visits Oulton Park, while Jon Minshaw is best placed of British GT3’s Am contingent in sixth overall.

Lundqvist & Reid Continue To Set Sunoco Whelen & 240 Challenge Pace

Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps welcomed BRDC British F3, British GT, Mini Challenge JCW and Radical UK Challenge drivers last Saturday and Sunday on a bumper weekend of Sunoco Whelen and 240 Challenge action.

However, two familiar names remain top of their respective standings after Linus Lundqvist defended his Whelen lead thanks to another winning British F3 performance, and Kyle Reid extended his 240 advantage despite the Mini Challenge Cooper championship enjoying a weekend off.

 Whelen: As you were at the top

 Linus Lundqvist maintained his healthy lead in the race for January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona prize drive courtesy of another fast and consistent British F3 outing at Silverstone. A victory, pole position and second place in the championship’s two Sunoco points-paying contests helped him average 102.5 for the weekend, the same number as his pre- and post-event totals.

A slight improvement from his nearest rival Phil Keen – who finished second in British GT’s race at the same venue – saw the overall gap between them close by 0.18 points. However, Lundqvist’s new 9.92-point advantage remains significant as the season enters its second half. Indeed, the Swede will likely require a poor weekend if the likes of Keen and third place driver Stuart Moseley are to make serious inroads.

Lundqvist’s F3 title rival Nicolai Kjaergaard remains fourth, albeit 24.37 points adrift, while a second victory and third podium in as many British GT3 races has brought Nicki Thiim into play. The Dane made a sluggish start to the season but has risen up the rankings in recent weeks and now lies just 2.05 points behind his fellow countryman.

TF Sport team-mate and ‘Dane Train’ partner in crime Marco Sorensen picked up extra marks for a third consecutive British GT3 fastest lap at Silverstone and lies sixth, one place ahead of Kush Maini who added 10 to his season’s total by claiming two British F3 podiums, a pole position and fastest lap.

British GT3 rivals Yelmer Buurman and Jonny Adam are next up, while the same championship’s best placed GT4 Pro driver, Patrik Matthiesen  rounds out the top-10.

240: Reid extends lead without turning a wheel

 A weekend off for leader Kyle Reid offered his Radical UK Challenge, British GT3/4 Am and Mini Challenge JCW rivals an opportunity to close the gap.

Steve Burgess went into the weekend as Reid’s nearest challenger after enjoying a strong start to this season’s Radical UK Challenge campaign. However, high average scores are only maintained through consistently strong results, and at Spa Burgess suffered his weakest weekend of the season so far. Indeed, just one podium and pole position across the three races reduced his average by more than 20 points to 102.22.

That’s 21.78 fewer than Reid and just 3.33 more than Radical rival Dominic Jackson who added 10 points to his season’s average by claiming three wins, two fastest laps and a pole position in Belgium.

Kelvin Fletcher also continued his climb up the standings thanks to another excellent British GT4 Am performance. Class victory and fastest lap sees him move up two places and nine points to fourth ahead of F3 Cup’s Stuart Wiltshire, who didn’t race last weekend, and Jon Minshaw who finished second in British GT3.

A perfect British GT3 weekend for Mark Farmer, which featured victory, fastest Am lap and pole position, sees him lie less than two points behind championship rival Minshaw and a similar number ahead of Mini Cooper Pro racer Robbie Dalgleish.

Ant Whorton-Eales picked up a brace of podiums to remain best-placed Mini Challenge JCW driver in ninth, while British GT4 Am Nick Jones rounds out the top-10.

 

 

Lundqvist Fends Off Late Maini Challenge To Extend F3 Championship Lead At Silverstone

Double R Racing’s Linus Lundqvist converted his first qualifying pole into victory at Silverstone today (Saturday), but the Swedish driver was made to work for it after a race-long challenge from Lanan Racing’s Kush Maini. Douglas Motorsport’s Jordan Cane almost made it a three-way fight for the lead after closing up on the duo in the latter stages.

Lundqvist’s win, his fourth of the year, continues his trend of taking victory at every venue visited so far this year, and extends his championship lead to 48 points over Carlin’s Nicolai Kjaergaard.

Qualifying
Lundqvist had been fastest in both Friday test sessions on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, and continued his testing form into qualifying this morning, securing pole position by just 0.051s from Maini.

Maini topped the times for much of the session before the championship leader took over at the top with less than five minutes remaining, with Maini’s second his best qualifying performance of the year so far.

A late effort for Carlin’s Clement Novalak put him third on the grid, with the British driver 0.171s away from Lundqvist’s time, and 0.040s ahead of fellow Brit Cane.

Carlin’s Billy Monger equalled his best qualifying result so far with fifth, just 0.013s behind Cane, with Jamie Chadwick 0.017s behind in sixth for Douglas Motorsport.

Championship challenger Kjaergaard was seventh, but still less than a quarter of a second off the outright pace and only 0.006s behind Chadwick. A late effort from Hillspeed’s Jusuf Owega put him eighth on the grid, with Pavan Ravishankar taking his best qualifying result of the year with ninth.

Fortec’s Tom Gamble completed a top-10 separated by just 0.687s on the second longest circuit of the year. Less than a second covered the top-13 drivers, with the top-16 separated by 1.339s,

Race one
Lundqvist stretched his championship lead with a lights to flag victory in the opening race at Silverstone, holding off a late charge from Maini to take his fourth win of the season.

Maini was just 0.392s behind at the chequered flag, with Cane taking third for Douglas Motorsport, having closed right up to the top-two in the closing stages.

Novalak claimed fourth for Carlin, holding off a race long threat from Douglas Motorsport’s Chadwick in fifth, with Kjaergaard sixth for Carlin. Owega claimed seventh for Hillspeed after a late move on Carlin’s Monger, with Double R’s Krishnaraaj Mahadik and Fortec’s Gamble completing the top-10.

Lundqvist and Maini both made good starts to lead into Copse on the first lap, with Cane getting off the line well to claim third from Novalak. Further back, Kjaergaard passed team mate Monger for sixth place, while Mahadik had a great opening tour to rise from 15th on the grid to claim 10th at the end of lap one.

Lundqvist’s lead was almost eight tenths after the opening lap, but from then on Maini was fractions quicker, and brought the margin down to just under half a second by lap seven, with Maini setting a new BRDC British F3 lap record around the newly resurfaced Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in the process.

On lap eight, Maini was close enough to Lundqvist to attempt a move. Exiting Aintree corner, he was firmly in the slipstream down the Wellington straight, and challenged at Brooklands. He was alongside but took the outside line at Luffield, with Lundqvist holding him off across the line starting lap nine, with the pair separated by just over a tenth of a second. The pair were close again at Copse at the start of lap nine, with their scrap almost bringing Cane into the battle for the lead.

Lundqvist stretched the margin back out to almost half a second starting the last lap, and held off the Indian driver to win by just under four tenths, to increase his championship lead to 48 points. Maini’s second place puts him much closer in the championship standings to Kjaergaard, while Cane climbs to seventh overall.

The top-three drivers were presented with their trophies on the podium by BRDC member and GT racer Martin Plowman.